Brandon Lewis: I hope our councillors will vote Conservative
After fighting off some technical glitches this morning, the new series of the Marr Show featured an interview with the Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis. With local elections, and potentially, European elections approaching next month, Mishal Husain (filling in for Marr) asked Lewis about the party’s dire standing in the opinion polls. Of particular concern was a poll of Conservative councillors showing that 40 per cent were planning to vote for Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party if the European elections went ahead:
MH: When nearly 800 of your councillors were questioned for a survey, 40 per cent of them said they would be voting for the Brexit party…
BL: …If we have to fight these European elections, I fully appreciate the huge frustration that people, particularly our members and councillors have, that we haven’t left the EU yet, and that we might have to fight these elections at all. But if we do, I hope they’ll vote Conservative.
Councils ‘doing fabulous work’ delivering ‘more for less’
Lewis defended the amount of money going to local authorities, but went on to acknowledge that councils had seen significant cuts since 2010:
MH: The Conservative council leaders who say ‘There isn’t enough money… we can barely manage’ – are they wrong?
BL: It differs around the country. There are some local authorities who are doing fabulous work making sure they are delivering more for less… [but] we inherited such a bad economic situation back in 2010, we had to make some very very tough decisions. Local government has had to take a good part of that, because it does account for a quarter of all public spending.
Andrew Gwynne: I expect Labour will endorse second referendum
Husain also interviewed Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s co-national campaign coordinator. Labour is reportedly redrafting its European election leaflets after they were found not to contain any reference to holding a second Brexit referendum, a policy which the party has recently been flirting with.