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Grant Shapps defends Rishi Sunak as Tory party unrest grows following local election losses

Grant Shapps was forced to defend Rishi Sunak on Sunday as party unrest grows following the local election results.

Quizzed on the morning broadcast round, the Energy Secretary said the Conservatives are “buzzing with ideas” despite losing over a 1,000 council seats, inflation remaining high and criticism from within the party from former Cabinet members such as Priti Patel.

With Mr Sunak angering pro-Brexit MPs following the decision to scrap the removal of EU laws from the statute books, Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “I think this is a party that still, after years in government and despite having to put up with things like the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and all the costs attached to it, is actually buzzing with ideas.

“We’re able to get together and we’re able to hold conferences, and have different ideas come forward.

“I don’t have to agree with everything that everybody says to welcome the very fundamental fact that we’re still the party coming up with new ideas, with a vision for the United Kingdom, and I think that is a good thing.

“The fact that Boris Johnson, who was our Prime Minister, is clapped by Conservative MPs is not I think a shocking revelation.”

Speaking at the Conservative Democratic Organisation’s conference in Bournemouth on Saturday, Ms Patel launched an attack on the party’s leadership by claiming “some parts of Westminster and our colleagues have done a better job of damaging our party than the opposition”.

She also paid tribute to Boris Johnson as the man “who got Brexit done” alongside other allies such as Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Later on Sunday, Mr Rees-Mogg claimed it was a mistake to get rid of Mr Johnson but that the party would be “toast if we changed the leader again so we must back the leader that we’ve got”.

This comes after a Westminster poll released by YouGov poll released on May 10, had the Tories with 26 per cent of the vote - a loss of one per cent from the previous poll on April 26-27.

Labour gained two per cent to increase to 43 while the Lib Dems remained on 10.

Despite the perilous position of the party, Mr Shapps urged the public to back the Prime Minister and his five pledges.

He said: “I accept they are difficult and very detailed pledges. These are not vague numbers... It is difficult.

“I thought it was always going to be difficult.

“The Prime Minister set out his five pledges... and he is still absolutely, and we are still absolutely, committed to delivering those things.”

He called on people to “wait until the end of that trajectory” to judge the PM’s progress.

On growth, he said: “We have avoided the recession that even the experts were predicting. His pledge was to grow the economy, and we’re starting to see it grow.”

The poll was carried out between May 3-4 and asked 2,012 adults.