Theresa May takes cheeky swipe at Boris Johnson and Liz Truss in jokey speech

Theresa May has warned Keir Starmer his poll lead could disappear ahead of the election just as hers did in 2017.

The former PM said she believes there is “every chance” that Rishi Sunak will be able to cling on in No10. Speaking at an event in Westminster, Mrs May said the Labour leader should learn lessons from the 2017 campaign when she threw away the Conservative Party’s majority despite polls suggesting she would win.

She insisted the next general election was not a “foregone conclusion”, saying: “First of all, on the doorsteps that I go on Keir Starmer is not Tony Blair. The view on those doorsteps is different to the feel pre-1997. Secondly actually – I’m sure members of the Labour Party would accept this – winning the number of seats they need to win is a tough call because you’ve got to do a lot of work on the ground to be able to do that.

“And thirdly, we’ve seen a lot of unexpected election results. I think I was probably 20 points ahead in most of the election campaigns for the 2017 election. And look what happened to that. So I think against the background with the economy improving it is not a foregone conclusion.”

Asked what was the root of the Tory Party’s problems, Mrs May took aim at Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. She said: “We had the issues around, let’s face it, Boris and the lockdown parties, which I think exacerbated a sense that was already there in people, but it exacerbated the sense that it was one rule for MPs and another rule for them. And then with Liz what happened to the markets, that just disrupted the sense that this was a party of economic management.”

Mrs May joked about the title of Ms Truss’s book, Ten Years to Save the West. “Given Liz’s reputation and record, perhaps it should be Ten Days To save the West,” she said. “We’re all waiting for the memoir of Boris Johnson, which will undoubtedly be shelved under current affairs.”

Mrs May lost her majority after putting forward a policy on social care that did not go down well with voters. Speaking yesterday, she suggested that wealthier voters should not expect those who are less fortunate to subsidise them. She said: “The concept now seems to be that whatever problem you have, somebody else will pay for it. And I think there’s a very difficult discussion to be had with the public about social care. I think there is that assumption that government is always going to pay for it.

“Why should somebody who is perhaps sitting on a house, which has a significant value, expect the family that are on average earnings and struggling to make ends meet pay for that person’s social care? “So I think there’s some real challenges. There’s not an easy answer but it’s an issue that we have got to address at some stage in the coming years.”