Former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke has launched a blistering intervention, urging Rishi Sunak to step down as Prime Minister.
Clarke, who was a former ally of Sunak, warned that the Conservatives must oust Sunak or face an electoral “massacre”.
The MP served as Sunak’s number 2 at the Treasury. He warned that “extinction is a very real possibility” for the Conservative Party if the current PM leads it into this year’s general election.
In a blistering Op-Ed in the Telegraph, Clarke said that, while Sunak has many good qualities, “he does not get what Britain needs and he is not listening to what the British people want”.
He said: “The unvarnished truth is that Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred.
“Denial of impending catastrophe is an extraordinarily powerful human instinct.”
The MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland continued: “Our country, with all the challenges we face, is on the brink of being run by Keir Starmer’s Labour for a decade or more.
“If Nigel Farage returns to the fray, as looks increasingly likely, extinction is a very real possibility for our party.
“And it is now beyond doubt that whilst the Prime Minister is far from solely responsible for our present predicament, his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery.”
But former Cabinet minister Liam Fox accused Clarke of “having an agenda to destabilise the Government”.
Writing on X, he said: “This is not the time for self-indulgence and tribalism in the party.
“Those who have an agenda to destabilise the government in an election year should understand the consequences. Having been on the front bench for all 13 years in opposition, it is a miserable place. Be warned.”
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis added: “This is getting silly. The Party and the country are sick and tired of MPs putting their own leadership ambitions ahead of the UK’s best interests.
“It is really about time that these people realise they have a duty to the country that is greater than their personal leadership ambitions.”
Dame Priti Patel added: “At this critical time for our country, with challenges at home and abroad, our party must focus on the people we serve and deliver for the country.
“Engaging in facile and divisive self-indulgence only serves our opponents, it’s time to unite and get on with the job.”
Meanwhile, a senior Conservative spokesperson told GB News: “This is a self-indulgent attempt to undermine the government at a critical moment for the country. He may claim to be helping the party but the only person he is doing any favours for is Sir Keir Starmer.”
Labour also weighed in, with Pat McFadden, the party’s National Campaign Coordinator said there are “many good reasons” for removing the Tories.
He said: “Labour will focus on serving the British people whilst the Tories form another circular firing squad.
“There are many good reasons for getting rid of this clapped out Conservative government and liberating the British people from endless bouts of Tory infighting is certainly one of them.
“Whilst the Conservatives fight among themselves, Labour will fight for a better future for the country, where economic growth is felt in every part of Britain, where we generate the wealth we need for the NHS, good schools and safety on our streets and where we renew the country after 14 years of Tory failure.”