Jeremy Hunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Thérèse Coffey are among 10 cabinet ministers who face losing their seats, according to a poll which found the Conservatives are on course for a general election wipeout.
Thomas Kingsley www.independent.co.uk
The poll by Opinium, using the MRP method to estimate constituency-level results, projected a 1997-style landslide for Labour, with the party winning 411 seats.
The research, commisioned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), indicated the Conservatives would lose 219 seats to end up on 137, with the Liberal Democrats on 39 seats and SNP on 37. It projected a vote share for Labour of 43 per cent, with the Conservatives on 28 per cent, the Lib Dems on 13 per cent, Greens on 7 per cent, and SNP on 4 per cent.
Those results would be the Tory party’s worst election performance since 1906, when it secured 156 seats.
The poll was carried out with more than 10,000 adults from 26 to 30 September – two weeks before Liz Truss scrapped large parts of her mini-Budget and sacked her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng. Polling since then suggests her government has sunk further in popularity.
Among those whose seats were projected to be lost by the Tories were the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, Simon Clarke, the levelling-up secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, Thérèse Coffey, the health secretary and deputy prime minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the transport secretary, Chloe Smith, the work and pensions secretary, Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, Jake Berry, the Tory party chair, and Robert Buckland, the Wales secretary.
Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, is also on course to lose his seat, according to the poll, and the Conservatives would lose all 45 out of 45 so-called red wall seats in the north of England.
The poll also asked voters about their support for EU-derived workers’ rights, such as paid leave and limits on working times, which are under threat from the Conservatives’ legislation scrapping laws and regulations that originated in Brussels.
Overall, 71 per cent of voters support retaining EU-derived workers’ rights such as holiday pay, safe limits on working times and rest breaks. They received overwhelming backing even in the seats of Mr Rees-Mogg, where 72 per cent supported them, and Liz Truss, where there was a backing of 63 per cent.
Head of political polling at Opinium Chris Curtis said: “Voters are convinced that the Conservatives are on the side of the wealthy rather than workers. If they want to avoid a wipeout at the next election they need to turn this around. One way they could do this is reverse their position on workers’ rights.”
Ms Truss has already watered down her leadership campaign pledge to scrap all remaining EU laws by the end of 2023 – allowing some to remain in place until 2026.
A new bill will aim to axe up to 1,500 items of so-called retained law – on workers’ rights, the environment, data privacy, road standards and much more – in just 15 months’ time.
But the government has given itself a get-out clause, after warnings that the accelerated timetable was a recipe for “chaos” and further damaging disruption for business.
A statement from Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, said: “The bill includes an extension mechanism for the sunset of specified pieces of retained EU law until 2026.”
In contrast, in July, as she campaigned for the Tory leadership, Ms Truss sought to outflank her rival Rishi Sunak by pledging “to scrap all EU regulation by the end of 2023”.
Nevertheless, huge concerns remain over the bonfire of EU laws – even on a slower timetable – because it will be carried out through regulations, behind MPs’ backs.
A former government lawyer warned “human review” of decisions made by computer algorithms will be quietly axed, risking a repeat of the 2020 “A-levels fiasco”.
Tearing up protections could also come at a price, if divergence triggers disputes under the Brexit trade deal – potentially allowing Brussels to curb access to EU markets for British firms.
Responsibility for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill remains with Mr Rees-Mogg – who once suggested cutting EU safety standards to levels in India – after his switch from the Cabinet Office to the business department.