Tory MPs urge rightward shift from Sunak

The PM is being urged to ‘shape the political agenda’ ahead of the general election expected next year.

Rishi Sunak has come under pressure from Conservative MPs to go further ahead of the King’s Speech, as the Prime Minister faced calls to embrace proposals from the right wing of the party.

As MPs return to Westminster on Monday fresh from party conference season, Mr Sunak is being urged to use the King’s Speech to “shape the political agenda” with potentially only a year to go until the next general election.

Senior Tory MPs have thrown their weight behind new proposals from right-wing think tank Policy Exchange on housing, crime and sex education in schools.

The King’s Speech, to open the next session of Parliament, will take place in November and sees the Government set out its proposed policies and planned legislation.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Brandon Lewis has called on Mr Sunak to reform the planning process to speed up the building of homes, as well as to push again to end nutrient neutrality rules.

Conservative Party Conference 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pitched himself as a changemaker at the Tory conference (Danny Lawson/PA)

Government plans to relax the environmental rules to boost housebuilding were blocked by peers last month.

The Policy Exchange also wants to see changes to allow “greater public and community participation” in the planning process.

Sir Brandon said the proposals would “expedite the delivery of badly needed housing and infrastructure in a material way”.

He added: “Adopting it would get the Government back on the front foot when it comes to perhaps the most significant public policy challenge facing our country today.”

Sir Simon Clarke, a close ally of former prime minister Liz Truss, also gave his backing to proposals to reform the planning rules for electricity networks to speed up the building of grid infrastructure.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Former Cabinet minister Sir Brandon Lewis wants the planning system to be reformed (Aaron Chown/PA)

He also endorsed calls for market-based reforms of the energy sector, which Policy Exchange said would improve affordability for customers.

The proposals include shifting from the current energy price cap model to a more targeted cap for the most vulnerable customers.

The former chief secretary to the Treasury said: “UK businesses from the smallest to the largest are constantly telling policy makers that energy costs and the burden of regulation is inhibiting their ability to grow.

“Policy Exchange’s proposals for the King’s Speech will not only materially address both these growth barriers, but ease the cost of living for households up and down the country.”

Backbench MP Miriam Cates also backed calls to give parents an “absolute right” to know what children are being taught in schools, as well as a proposal to give parents the right to seek a court injunction to stop schools teaching “age-inappropriate or politicised materials”.

She said: “No child should be socially transitioned behind their parents’ back.”

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