- Theresa May is ready to consider a dramatic U-turn on university tuition fees
- Senior Minister, Damian Green, said the Tories were doomed unless they acted
- Many students voted Labour following Jeremy Corbyn’s vow to scrap tuition fees
- Mr Green also hinted at a rethink in the Conservatives’ approach to capitalism
Theresa May is ready to consider a dramatic U-turn on university tuition fees to woo young voters back to the Tory Party.
The bombshell move was signalled yesterday by her most senior Minister, Damian Green, who said a ‘national debate may well be needed on this huge issue’.
He said the Tories were doomed unless they reacted to the surge in support for Labour, especially among the young, and called on the party to ‘change hard’. Millions of students voted Labour following Jeremy Corbyn’s vow to scrap tuition fees, slashing the Tory lead.
Prime Minister Theresa May attends a press conference at the end of a two-day EU Summit in Brussels late month
Mr Green also hinted at a fundamental rethink in the Conservatives’ approach to capitalism amid criticism of its austerity policies, saying:
‘The discontent with capitalism since the 2008 crash, which is vaguely expressed as being anti-austerity, needs to be tackled head-on.’
The Tories must adapt to the changed political landscape or risk ‘serious long-term damage to the party’s electoral prospects,’ he said, adding that his party had to be ready to ‘recast our core beliefs in a manner that captures the prevailing mood of the era’.
And he took a sideswipe at Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron, saying renewing Tory support among the young was about more than ‘hugging huskies, cuddling hoodie-wearing teenagers and PR stunts’.
Mr Green’s comments are believed to have been sanctioned by Mrs May. She promoted him to First Secretary after the Election, effectively making him her deputy. The two have been close friends since they met at university.
However, even Mrs May did not escape criticism as Mr Green said the language she used in a hard-hitting attack on the anti-Brexit ‘metropolitan elite’ last year was ‘too tough’.
His speech in London reflects the scale of Tory alarm at the growing popularity of Mr Corbyn, but it will spark concern among traditionalists who have warned against a panic reaction to Labour gains at the Election. Mrs May could face claims that such major changes could further undermine her claim to be ‘strong and stable’.