Moderate Conservatives dismiss MP’s assertion that the party needs to adopt a more right-wing stance.

Centrist Conservative MPs are refuting the claim made by one of their right-wing colleagues, Danny Kruger, that the party is in danger of being completely wiped out in the next election unless it shifts its ideology to the right.

Members of the One Nation group of Tories are rejecting Kruger’s assertions that the party has worsened Britain during its 13 years in power and is on track for a significant defeat in the upcoming election.

This internal dispute is yet another indication of the challenges facing the prime minister as he works to unite his party before the election and close the significant gap in the opinion polls. Rishi Sunak, during a visit to Accrington on Monday morning, assured voters that his party is working towards improving the lives of the British people.

Stephen Hammond, a prominent member of the One Nation group, stated that Kruger is mistaken in his belief that the country has declined under the Conservatives. Hammond urged the prime minister not to shift the party’s stance to the right in a bid to secure votes.

“The Conservative party needs to acknowledge that mistakes have been made, particularly the exaggeration of the benefits of Brexit, and regain its core strengths and principles,” Hammond remarked. “Effective governance means confronting and addressing issues and problems pragmatically rather than dogmatically.”

“The party thrives when it embraces social acceptance and fosters ambition. Rather than lecturing people on their lifestyle choices, we should work towards creating an economy and a country that allows individuals to fulfill their aspirations,” he added.

Hammond continued, “We win elections by offering hope – a vision of a prosperous Britain in the 2020s/30s, not a return to the Reform vision of the 1950s. Dogmatism repels voters. Swinging to the extremes on the political spectrum, be it left or right, alienates the electorate.”

Another former minister and member of the One Nation group noted, “Since 2010, the government has navigated through the aftermath of the financial crash, the challenges posed by Covid, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and much more … Every Conservative should direct their criticism towards the policy void that currently characterizes the Labour Party and remember that elections are won from the center ground.”

Kruger had warned his own party by pointing to the rise of far-right parties in Europe, urging ministers to abandon “models of mass migration, political correctness, and economic short-termism.” He emphasized, “Either we remember the people we serve, or we will face total destruction.”

These remarks from Kruger came after The Guardian approached him regarding comments he made at a private event last year, where he cautioned Tory members that the party risked losing power after making the country “sadder, less united, and less conservative.”

As a founding member of the New Conservatives, Kruger is among a group of increasingly influential backbenchers who seek to push the party further to the right, especially regarding immigration and personal identity issues.

However, moderates have begun to push back in recent months. Damian Green, the group’s chairman, stated over the weekend, “The old saying that it’s the economy, stupid, still holds true for general elections.”

The One Nation group plans to host a reception in Westminster this week to demonstrate its influence within the Tory party. A test of its power will come in the following weeks when MPs vote on the bill to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The New Conservatives and other right-wing factions have pressed Sunak to toughen the bill, while moderates are concerned that doing so may violate international law.

As MPs prepare to return to the House of Commons later on Monday, Sunak attempted to strike an optimistic tone during a question-and-answer session in Accrington. “We are constructing a brighter future for your children and grandchildren, and I aim to instill a renewed sense of pride in our country,” he asserted.

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