PM 'being airbrushed out of Tory leaflets' ahead of local elections

Rishi Sunak ‘being airbrushed out of Conservative leaflets’ ahead of next month’s local elections amid fears of dire Tory result

  • The PM is reportedly being left off leaflets in favour of other senior Tories 

Rishi Sunak is being left off Conservative leaflets ahead of next month’s local elections in a sign candidates are distancing themselves from the Prime Minister.

Campaign material from areas including Blackpool, Lewes, Cheadle, Solihull and East Cleveland reportedly shows other Tory MPs and councillors but no images of Mr Sunak.

According to the Telegraph, which said it had seen Conservative election leaflets in several target areas, the PM is being left off in favour of images of other leading Tories such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Suella Braverman.

Scott Benton, the Blackpool South MP, was revealed to have released a pamphlet featuring Mr Gove and Mr Johnson but not Mr Sunak.

Another leaflet from Eastbourne makes no reference to the Tories’ record at Westminster but instead focuses on local issues such as parking, weed-killing and the maintenance of graveyards, according to the newspaper.

Scott Benton, the Blackpool South MP, was revealed to have released a pamphlet featuring Michael Gove and Boris Johnson but not Rishi Sunak

The PM is said to have warned Tory MPs, ahead of next month’s local elections, not to expect voters to reward the Government for their efforts just yet

A Tory source said: ‘MPs that feel they are under threat often run locally-focused campaigns that distance them from the party’s branding.’

The Conservatives are continuing to languish behind Labour in opinion polls and experts have suggested the Tories could lose more than 1,000 council seats on 4 May, with Sir Keir Starmer’s party racking up 700 new seats.

Mr Sunak recently signed a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland with the EU, announced new measures to tackle the Channel migrant crisis and unveiled a series of law and order initiatives.

Latest figures have also shown Britain’s economy avoided a recession as it grew in the final months of last year.

But the PM is said to have warned Tory MPs not to expect voters to reward the Government for their efforts just yet.

‘Just because we’re making real progress, just because we’re finally showing the country the difference between a Conservative Government that can deliver and a Labour Party that’s all talk, we shouldn’t expect the voters to reward that hard work in full just yet, because we still have more to do,’ the PM told the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Wednesday evening, the Sunday Times reported.

Mr Sunak is also said to have hailed how ‘our plan is working’, telling his party: ‘Just imagine how different politics will feel with inflation under control, the economy growing, debt falling, the waiting lists going down and the boats stopped.’

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne today said a dire set of local election results was ‘priced in’ for Mr Sunak, but praised the PM’s efforts in recent weeks.

‘There’s been a missed opportunity for Labour over the last couple of months,’ he told Channel 4’s Andrew Neil Show.

‘They could have really sealed the deal whilst the Tories were getting themselves out of the mess they were in at the beginning of the year.

‘Keir Starmer could have upped the gears a bit and made that connection with the British public, because I think the public were listening.

‘I don’t think he’s quite done that, it’s allowed Rishi Sunak back in the game.

‘I don’t know whether the Tories will do that well in these local elections – but that’s sort of written-in now, that’s already priced in.

‘I would definitely say the Conservatives, whilst not the favourites to win the general election, are in a much stronger position than they were a couple of months ago.

‘And if Rishi Sunak can keep delivering on these fundamentals… he will put himself in a much stronger position than anyone would have thought possible a year ago.’

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