Sunak still fighting hard as ally Stride says highly likely Labour will win

Sunak still ‘fighting hard’ as ally Stride says ‘highly likely’ Labour will win

Rishi Sunak insisted he was still “fighting hard” for votes after one of his most loyal Cabinet allies said Labour is likely to win “the largest majority any party has ever achieved”.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said it is “highly unlikely” that polls suggesting a victory for Sir Keir Starmer’s party are wrong.

Mr Sunak insisted it was not a “foregone conclusion” and Mr Stride was “warning of what a very large Labour majority, unchecked, would mean for people”.

Sir Keir claimed the Tories were talking up the prospect of a landslide in order to encourage would-be Labour voters to think they can stay at home.

The Tory campaign suffered a fresh blow on the eve of polling day as The Sun endorsed Labour for the first time since 2005.

Mr Stride, who helped run Mr Sunak’s campaign for the Conservative leadership and has made regular appearances on the TV and radio during the election campaign as the Tories’ spokesman, appeared resigned to a heavy defeat.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have accepted that where the polls are at the moment – and it seems highly unlikely that they are very, very wrong, because they’ve been consistently in the same place for some time – that we are therefore tomorrow highly likely to be in a situation where we have the largest majority that any party has ever achieved.”

Voter intention surveys have suggested a Labour lead of around 20 points, while massive multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) studies, which forecast constituency level results, have consistently indicated a Labour landslide.

Mr Stride told GB News: “If you look at the polls, it is pretty clear that Labour at this stage are heading for an extraordinary landslide on a scale that has probably never, ever been seen in this country before.”

But he said that if about 130,000 people in around 100 marginal seats who might be considering voting Reform or Liberal Democrat instead give their vote to the Tories, it would help to give Parliament a more robust opposition.

“I’m really worried about an untrammelled Labour Party in power, and that really needs to be checked, and people will regret it if we don’t have that, I think,” Mr Stride told LBC.

Speaking to This Morning, the Prime Minister said: “I’m fighting hard for every vote. Here’s what I’d say, actually, here’s what I’d say.

“We just saw some analysis which showed that just 130,000 people can make the difference in this election. So, everyone watching who thinks, ‘oh, this is all a foregone conclusion’, it’s not.”

Mr Sunak and Sir Keir are engaged in their final day of campaigning ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson made a surprise appearance at a Tory rally on Tuesday night in an effort to give the Conservative campaign a late boost.

But ex-home secretary Suella Braverman, a potential contender for the Tory leadership if Mr Sunak quits, wrote in the Telegraph: “One needs to read the writing on the wall: it’s over, and we need to prepare for the reality and frustration of opposition.”

At his first event of the day on a whistlestop tour of Wales, Scotland and England, Sir Keir told reporters in Carmarthenshire he was “not in the slightest” rattled by the intervention from Mr Johnson, describing him as the “architect of chaos and division”.

He said Tory warnings of Labour winning an unprecedented majority amounted to “voter suppression.”

“It’s trying to get people to stay at home rather than to go out and vote,” he said.

“I say, if you want change, you have to vote for it. I want people to be part of the change.”

A Survation MRP study suggested Labour is on course to win more seats than it did in Tony Blair’s landslide.

The survey of 34,558 and constituency-level modelling suggested it is “99% certain” Labour will secure more than the 418 seats won in 1997.

The MRP poll data suggests prominent Tories could lose their seats to Labour, including Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt in Portsmouth North, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps in Welwyn Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and party chairman Richard Holden in Basildon and Billericay, Essex.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to lose the Godalming and Ash seat in Surrey, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan her Chichester, Sussex, seat to the Liberal Democrats.

“The Conservative Party is virtually certain to win a lower share of the vote than at any past general election,” Survation said.

A Techne UK survey of 5,503 voters for The Independent, also unveiled overnight, gave Labour (40%) a 19-point lead over the Tories (21%).

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