Tories must ‘repent’ and admit they got it ‘badly wrong’ on immigration to win back voters, says Robert Jenrick

THE Conservative Party must “repent” and admit they failed on immigration to win back voters, Robert Jenrick has insisted.

As a bitter Tory blame-game erupts, he said his side “broke their promises” and must admit to getting it “badly wrong”.

Robert Jenrick says the Tories must admit they got it 'badly wrong'

4

Robert Jenrick says the Tories must admit they got it ‘badly wrong’Credit: Alamy
As Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata leave No10 after defeat, a blame game erupts among the Tories

4

As Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata leave No10 after defeat, a blame game erupts among the ToriesCredit: PA

Mr Jenrick is one of the frontrunners to replace defeated Rishi Sunak as party leader and his words will be seen as his first, unofficial, pitch for the top job.

The battered party is reeling from its worst election loss in 200 years on a night dubbed by one senior insider the “Conservative Chernobyl”.

Surviving MPs are pushing for Iain Duncan Smith to take over as caretaker as the leadership contest gets under way.

They also want a long race with a final vote in October.

READ MORE ON CONSERVATIVES

Speaking exclusively to The Sun on Sunday, Mr Jenrick said the  humiliating defeat was because of a failure to bring down immigration.

He said: “The Government broke their promises on immigration by liberalising the system.

“Those decisions were an insult to the British public and now we must repent. If we are to bounce back as a party, we must first admit we got it badly wrong.’’

Senior Tories believe the party could  become extinct unless it spikes Reform’s guns by going hard on immigration.

Most read in The Sun

Net migration rocketed to its highest in history in 2022 — hitting 745,000.

Rishi Sunak resigns as Conservative party leader

Mr Jenrick was Immigration Minister but quit  in fury at Mr Sunak’s failure to take tougher steps to bring the numbers down.

With jostling to become the next leader  already taking place, Kemi Badenoch is the favourite and her team are already quietly tapping up party bigwigs for support.

Mr Jenrick and ex-Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel are also expected to run. 

On the party’s left, former Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and ex-Health Secretary Victoria Atkins are  expected to throw their hats in the ring.

But Jeremy Hunt has ruled out another run. One party grandee suggested former leader Mr Duncan Smith could get the job  permanently, not just as caretaker.

He said: “A few people are asking, ‘Is IDS the man?’. He heroically won his seat against the odds.

“He is highly respected and can reunite the Right without having to beg anything from Nigel Farage.”

A source close to Ms Badenoch said: “She is reflecting on the result and speaking lots to colleagues who have won and lost.

“She thinks the post-mortem shouldn’t be rushed, it needs proper consideration.”

A friend of Mr Tugendhat   said: “He is expected to run but everyone in the party recognises the need for a couple of days to take stock. When the time comes, he will be appealing to a broad church.”

Dame Priti is gathering a growing head of steam — but has never publicly addressed the rumours she will run.

Former Home Secretary James Cleverly had cooled on a leadership bid, but could fancy his chances now so few Tory MPs remain.

However, Suella Braverman is not expected to run.

‘Can’t have divided right-wing vote’

The next Tory leader — whoever it is — is expected to rule out doing a deal to merge with Nigel Farage and his Reform UK party.

One senior Tory MP said: “Nigel has said he wants to destroy the Conservative Party

“Even if you like him and want Reform voters, you can’t do a deal with someone who wants to kill you.”

But Sir Edward Leigh — known as Father of the House as the longest-serving MP — said: “We’ve got to, I think, invite Reform voters and Farage to join us.

“Because otherwise, in five years’ time, we are going to have a similar debacle. 

“We can’t have a divided right-wing vote.”

Mr Sunak has issued more grovelling apologies to Tory MPs after the  historic defeat.

In a WhatsApp message seen by The Sun on Sunday, he writes “First of all, well done. On an extremely difficult night for our party, you won despite all the national headwinds against you. 

“I know that this success is made bittersweet by the fact that so many good colleagues and friends won’t be with us in the Commons. 

“I am sorry that I could not deliver a better result for us nationally.”

Mr Sunak went on: “We must all rest and gather our strength this weekend. 

“But when Parliament gets under way, I know we will fulfil our role holding Labour to account, back on the front foot and taking the fight to them.” 

And his email to activists  says: “I have heard the anger and   disappointment, and I take full responsibility for this loss.

5 possible Tory leaders

Robert Jenrick: Ex-Immigration Minister: 17/2

Tom Tugendhat: Ex-Security Minister: 9/2

Kemi Badenoch: Ex-Business Secretary: 2/1

Priti Patel: Ex-Home Secretary: 10/1

Victoria Atkins: Ex-Health Secretary: 15/1

It’s Prime Relocation

Workers load removal van with Rishi Sunak’s possessions after his swift exit from No10

4

Workers load removal van with Rishi Sunak’s possessions after his swift exit from No10Credit: George Cracknell Wright
Major Downing Street clear-out drags on into second day

4

Major Downing Street clear-out drags on into second dayCredit: Simon Jones

WORKERS load up a removal van with Rishi Sunak’s belongings after the ex-PM’s abrupt exit.

Boxes were hauled out of the back door of Downing Street as a major clear-out dragged into a second day.

READ MORE SUN STORIES

Sir Keir Starmer may take as long as two weeks to move into the No10 flat.

Alternatively, he could choose to occupy the larger apartment inside No11, where both Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson lived.

Leave a Reply