Tories skewered for ‘extraordinary’ resolution to dodge Sky News present

Tory former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was taken to task over why his former colleagues bottled appearing on a prime political TV show.

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips said it was “extraordinary” that the party did not put up a representative for his Sunday show after their General Election drubbing. Mr Zahawi, who stepped down at the election, admitted his party had been punished by voters for years of infighting.

He said: “It is pretty catastrophic to go from 365 MPs down to 121, it’s pretty shocking. But I do think we have an opportunity to regroup. Why do I say that? Because if you look at the MPs that remain today, we’ve got some serious talent in the Conservative Party that is still in Parliament.

Ex-Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi appeared on Sky News with Trevor Phillips - as none of his MP colleagues appeared to want to

Ex-Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi appeared on Sky News with Trevor Phillips – as none of his MP colleagues appeared to want to

“I am hopeful that they will come together because for too many years, for far too long, we former a circular firing squad and that’s what the electorate saw. And therefor, they reacted, the electorate, quite rightly, by throwing us out of power.”

Mr Phillips replied: “Perhaps it’s an indication of how shattering a blow this is for your party, that not a single senior serving, member of the Conservative Party, parliamentary party, would volunteer to speak for the party this morning.

“I don’t think I’ve ever remember being in a situation where a senior, no senior person wanted to come on the telly.”

Mr Zahawi said they were “probably exhausted” after the election, but the presenter said: “Nobody’s ever too exhausted to to take ten minutes in front of an audience.”

Mr Zahawi said: “Well it is Sunday morning after a bruising Thursday and Friday…” Mr Phillips retorted: “Oh stop it Nadhim, I mean, basically, with a lot of these people, we have to actually lock the doors to stop them. What’s going on?”

The former MP said: “I suspect they’re working out whether they’re going to run or not for the leadership. If they are going to run, they’ll be putting their teams together, over the weekend.”

Potential Tory leadership contenders Victoria Atkins and Robert Jenrick both appeared on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show – but neither would confirm whether they were planning to run to be leader.

Rishi Sunak has said he will stay on as Tory leader until his successor has been appointed but the party has not decided on a timescale for the contest.