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Braverman blames Tory defeat on failure to tackle immigration and ‘woke virus’

Activists heard a speech by Suella Braverman at a conference (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)
Activists heard a speech by Suella Braverman at a conference (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

Former home secretary Suella Braverman has blamed her party’s disastrous General Election result on a series of failures, including not stopping a “wave of illegal immigrants” or tackling the “lunatic woke virus”.

Ms Braverman’s lament on the Tory defeat at a conference in London was her second in 24 hours after she made similar comments in Washington DC, hitting out at “liberal Conservatives”.

On Tuesday, she spoke at a Popular Conservatism event in London alongside ex-Tory Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who spoke of the need to win Reform voters back, and historian David Starkey, who said it was “deranged” that former Conservative prime minister David Cameron would cite enabling same-sex marriage as his greatest achievement.

Ms Braverman, appearing via a recorded video, said of the loss of her party’s 80-seat majority in 2019: “We were going to stop the wave of illegal migrants landing on our shores. We were going to cut taxes. We were going to lower overall illegal migration.

“We were going to stop the lunatic woke virus working its way through the British state.

“The harsh reality – this is a lesson we all need to learn and face up to – is that we did none of that.”

The Tories made a net loss of 251 seats at the election last week, which Ms Braverman described as a “devastating result”, leaving the party with 121 MPs.

Labour won a landslide with 412 MPs, ousting several senior Tory figures including Sir Jacob, former Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, defence secretary Grant Shapps and ex-prime minister Liz Truss.

Speaking about the campaign trail, Ms Braverman said: “It was challenging, it was gruelling, it was brutal, and we have to now face the facts as to why we ended up with this situation, and more importantly, what we do about it to move forward.

“And I know PopCons is going to play a pivotal role in the renaissance of our Conservative Party because boy does the country need it.

“Labour has installed itself and will start its job of dismantling the structures that will enable prosperity, the foundation of our order and the things that we cherish in this country to make our country great.”

Ms Braverman said the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights and criticised “farcical gimmicks” such as the smoking ban proposed by her former Cabinet colleague, ex-prime minister Rishi Sunak.

She added: “Historically in British politics, we have had a monopoly on the right-wing vote. That’s one of the reasons we have been so successful.

“The left, by contrast, for the last 100 years has been split. Left wing have had a choice of party to go for and we by contrast have had the luxury of a monopoly, but no longer, and that is why the Reform party presents an existential threat to us electorally.”

On Monday, she spoke to the National Conservatism conference in Washington where she said “our problem is that the liberal Conservatives who trashed the Tory party think it was everyone’s fault but their own” and criticised Government departments flying the Progress Pride flag, adding: “The Progress flag says to me is one monstrous thing: That I was a member of a government that presided over the mutilation of children in our hospitals and from our schools.”

At the London conference, Sir Jacob said: “We thought our core vote had nowhere else to go – they did.

“And we cannot just assume that the pendulum will swing back to us or that all the Reform voters will suddenly repent. We need to win them over one way or another.”

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK took five seats including Clacton in Essex for the former Ukip leader.

Mr Starkey said his party’s “catastrophe” began when former prime minister Lord Cameron eyed up centre ground in UK politics before he won the 2010 general election, taking 306 seats and negotiating a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

He asked activists: “What’s a Conservative prime minister doing when he says his greatest achievement is gay marriage?

“It’s deranged.”

Asked about the idea of “compassionate Conservatism” by an audience member, Mr Starkey replied: “Each time I hear the word ‘compassion’, I want to reach for a revolver.”

He added: “I hate the worship of the weak.”

Mr Starkey also said: “The way to look after the poor is by making the rest of us rich, it’s very, very simple.”