A senior Tory MP has warned that his own party is alienating it traditional supporters due to being dominated by a ‘metropolitan elite’.
Former defence secretary and long-standing North Somerset MP Liam Fox criticised the direction of the Conservative Party ahead of the start of its annual conference in Birmingham tomorrow.
Dr Fox – long a darling of the conference grassroots – warned the Conservative Party under David Cameron is disconnected from its traditional supporters.
Dr Fox, who quit the Cabinet last year, once fought Mr Cameron for the leadership of the party and has since used the freedom of the backbenches to become a figurehead for disgruntled rebels on the Tory right.
He penned an article in The Daily Telegraph to warn that Mr Cameron’s Government is pursuing an agenda increasingly at odds with the wishes of the core Tory vote.
He did not directly criticise the Prime Minister, but said he needed to ignore his coalition partners the Liberal Democrats and concentrate on key issues.
In the article he said: “It is true that many believe that we are dominated by the political agenda of the metropolitan elite and this sits uneasily with the social conservatism of much of the rest of the country.”
Issues such as loosening controls on developing green belt land and a move to allow homosexual couples full marriage rights have upset many Tory voters. Dr Fox also insists there must be a referendum on European Union membership.
Meanwhile, former Somerset MP David Heathcoat-Amory is leading calls to re-draw Britain’s relationship with the EU, arguing the country’s position looks “unprincipled and misguided” amid the eurozone crisis.
Mr Cameron appeared to offer some hope to eurosceptic Tory MPs, indicating last week that an in-out EU referendum would be called under a Conservative government after the 2015 general election. Mr Heathcoat-Amory, MP for Wells until 2010, and now a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe, has criticised the policy of “endless bail-outs” to save the euro – arguing now is the time to “cut the knot” between Britain and the EU.
Calling for an “opt-in principle” to enable the UK to decide on a case by case basis whether to adopt EU laws, directives and regulations, he said: “While the damage to the British economy from a euro collapse would of course be considerable, the longer term consequences of the EU becoming a fiscal state would be worse.”