Tory MPs gathered last night for the first meeting of a new growth caucus. Under the working title ‘Conservative Growth Group’, this gathering of like-minded MPs is planning to push a growth agenda – and manoeuvre the Prime Minister into adopting some of its preferred policies. The group is led by two men who served as cabinet ministers under Liz Truss: former levelling up secretary Simon Clarke and former environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena. While many of the policies are ones that the former prime minister is likely to support – and she is a member of the group – she does not have a formal role in the organisation.
The group currently has around 40 members and will work to discuss supply-side reform. It is part of a wider effort by those who backed Truss for the leadership to make sure that the growth agenda does not end with her premiership.
Clarke recently told The Spectator: ‘There is a real risk that with Liz’s eclipse comes the wider rejection of an entire school of Tory thinking. We don’t have time for that. We do not have time for this to be the 1970s again.’
Clarke has also set up ‘Next Generation Conservatives’, which is aimed at working on free market ideas to win over younger voters. Truss, too, is tipped to make an intervention ahead of the Spring Budget.
As I wrote in the Times, this group of MPs poses a different type of threat to Sunak than the Boris Johnson loyalists. Johnson’s most ardent supporters – such as Nadine Dorries – simply want their man back in No. 10. The former Trussites are less concerned with who the leader is, and more focused on their policies.