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The Conservative Tories plan to replace Sunak as Liz Truss-style leader after the election

The right-wing Conservatives have hatched a plan to install a Liz Truss-style leader as the general election collapse threatens, which would see the Conservatives in opposition move even further to the right.

The so-called People’s Conservatism Movement (PopCons), at whose launch Ms Truss gave a speech in February, hopes to ensure that a free-market libertarian Tory wins the expected leadership election.

A major poll showed the Conservatives will hold just 98 seats at the election, down from 365 in 2019, while Labor is on track to win 468.

Liz Truss’ involvement in PopCons was seen as an opportunity to influence a future leadership competition

(PA cable)

The historic defeat would likely lead to the resignation of Rishi Sunak and usher in a competition for the leadership of the Tory party.

The PopCons, now run by former Institute for Economic Affairs director Mark Littlewood, whom Ms Truss tried to give a knighthood to, have devised a plan to ensure the group’s preferred candidate can win.

Mr Littlewood has reportedly told friends that the PopCons’ preferred candidate will need the support of 70 MPs and 70,000 Tory members.

Sources working with PopCon told The times that Priti Patel would be the group’s preferred candidate if Mr Sunak loses the next election and resigns.

One told the newspaper: “There is a war on and we will win it. “We need to reinvigorate the free market perspective within the Conservative Party.”

Another said: “Team Liz is comfortable with PopCon being, in part, a vehicle for Priti’s leadership bid. She is undoubtedly Liz’s preferred candidate.”

A moderate Tory MP told The Independent A shift to the right could plunge the conservatives into a “spiral of doom.”

(Paul Ellis/PA Wire)

But a moderate Conservative MP said so The Independent that a shift to the right after the election defeat would be a “failure to learn the lesson of 1997” and would plunge the party into a “spiral of decline.”

William Hague, who succeeded John Major after Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, was criticized for moving the party to the right to appeal to core supporters but failing to reach the wider electorate.

The senior Tory MP spoken to The Independent was more optimistic than recent polls suggesting the Tories would win fewer than 100 seats in the House of Commons, but said the Conservatives would be “lucky” to get 200.

This comes amid repeated speculation about a group of so-called “conspirators” who could even try to remove Mr Sunak before the election. The Prime Minister faces a series of grueling local elections on May 2, with the Conservatives potentially facing the loss of hundreds of council seats or even key Tory mayors in the metro.

Ms Truss has ruled out running for Tory leadership again but defends her disastrous premiership, saying she was given “no realistic chance to implement my policies by a very powerful business establishment, coupled with a lack of political support.”

Other MPs believed to be preparing bids for the next leadership race include Defense Secretary Grant Shapps and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick are also expected to stand.

Economy Minister Kemi Badenoch is also considered a likely candidate for the competition.

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