Tories fighting to prevent Labour winning ‘supermajority’, says Shapps

Estimated read time 4 min read

The Conservatives are fighting to prevent Keir Starmer winning a “supermajority” even bigger than Labour’s 1997 landslide victory, Grant Shapps has said.

The defence secretary claimed such a result would be “very bad news” for the country as it would give Labour “unchecked power” – and as a result “would be a dangerous place to put this country”.

Labour’s poll lead still remains at about 20 percentage points, but Shapps said “the polls have been wrong before”.

His rhetoric follows the Conservatives’ latest social media advertising campaign, which has a central message of urging potential Reform voters not to risk handing Starmer the opportunity to do “anything” he wanted in parliament.

The online advert says the could be reduced to 57 seats in parliament on a 19% vote share, even if Reform picked up no MPs. On this basis, Shapps said the party was “fighting for every single seat in this country” as he hoped to pitch the Conservatives as the only party that would be able to hold Labour to account as the official opposition.

He appeared to directly knock back Nigel Farage’s claim that Reform was “the real opposition now” and the election on 4 July marked the “beginning” for his party.

Speaking to Times Radio, Shapps said: “The concern would be that if Keir Starmer were to go into No 10 – it will either be Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer, there’s no other outcomes to this election – and that power was in some way unchecked, it would be very bad news for people in this country.

“A blank-cheque approach, allowing someone to do anything they wanted, particularly when their particular set of plans are so vague, and they say ‘change’, but you have no idea what they actually want to change to, other than the fact that they’ve outlined plans which would cost £2,094 to every working family in this country.”

The Conservatives have been criticised for repeating claims that Labour’s election offer would cost an extra £2,094 in tax to each household over the course of the next parliament. The Treasury permanent secretary, James Bowler, said ministers had been told not to say civil servants produced the figure and that the figures should in no way be attributed to the civil service.

The shift in the Tory campaign can be seen in the party’s Facebook adverts, which it pays to push into social media feeds. Late last week, the party began trialling adverts aimed at a small number of voters that warned them not to “hand Keir Starmer a blank cheque” – adding that “a vote for Reform or the Liberal Democrats means you’ll have no one holding [Labour] to account on your behalf”.

In recent days, this has shifted into a full-blown defensive strategy, with the Tories paying to send adverts to hundreds of thousands of people warning that the party could easily slip into third place in the House of Commons behind the Liberal Democrats.

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Adverts aimed at older voters warn that voting anything other than Tory will “hand Keir Starmer a massive majority” and that pensioners will suffer.

The unusual messaging appears to be the Tories conceding that defeat is inevitable and instead pleading with its core voters to ensure there is still a substantial group of Conservative MPs in parliament.

On Tuesday night, Sunak appeared in an ITV interview that had created an election headache for him before being aired. He has since been forced to repeat his apology for missing part of Thursday’s D-day commemorations in France to record it.

The prime minister said his parents made a lot of sacrifices to make his education their priority, and as a result he went without “lots of things” growing up – such as Sky TV.


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