Sunak made ‘major mistake’ in dropping housebuilding targets, senior Tory says

- Advertisement -

Rishi Sunak’s “major mistake” of dropping housebuilding targets played a role in the Conservatives’ dire local election results, former levelling up secretary Simon Clarke said.

The senior Conservative MP argued on Monday that the Government’s attempts to “pander to the public’s worst instincts” of Nimbyism on homes was failing.

The Prime Minister was under pressure after the Tories shed 960 councillors across England in Thursday’s elections in a result approaching the party’s most pessimistic predictions.

Labour gained 635 seats and won control of 22 councils as the Liberal Democrats also performed strongly.

But he urged colleagues not to be “raking over the coals of what happened” under past administrations and to instead focus on the present.

Mr Clarke told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In these results there is one theme that stands out above all others for me is that we cannot out-Nimby the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, so one aspect of policy that does need to change and change as a matter of urgency is our housing policy.

“So we can get back to building the homes that people need, making the case, the moral, economic, political case, for building the homes that a growing population requires rather than, I’m afraid, trying to pander to the public’s worst instincts on this question, which isn’t working.

“I would say that dropping those targets was a major mistake and I would like those restored.”

He also said there is a need to give more resources to council planning departments, to look at incentives for new infrastructure and to take on the “hollowness” of the Nimby position.

Last year Mr Sunak caved to pressure from Tory backbenchers to make the target of building 300,000 houses a year in England advisory rather than mandatory and has argued there is little support for “top-down targets”.

Some argue that while housebuilding may be needed to increase the chances of holding on to the northern voters won over by Boris Johnson, it will be damaging to the Tories’ chances in their more traditional southern heartlands.

But Mr Clarke said: “The point is that we’ve lost huge swathes of councillors in the South East while having dropped targets and having run away from this argument, so it’s not rewarding us in the South East, it’s actually hurting us.”

The Prime Minister would be highly likely to win if it reached a vote because he commands a large majority in the House.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The local elections showed that the public clearly has no confidence in Sunak or the Conservatives, so it’s time for a general election now.

“There’s only one reason Rishi Sunak would deny British people a say at the ballot box: because he is running scared and knows he’d lose.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.