Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Avoid Civil War, Minister Pleads with Tory MPs; Cameron 'Must Spell out Tory Commitment to Social Justice'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Avoid Civil War, Minister Pleads with Tory MPs; Cameron 'Must Spell out Tory Commitment to Social Justice'

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy and Joseph Watts

A CABINET minister today pleaded with Tory MPs to avoid "civil war" as No 10 battled to save under-fire Chancellor George Osborne.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark used the term as he insisted that David Cameron and Mr Osborne were committed to helping the least well off. Tory grandee Lord Howard, the former party leader, also appealed to MPs to "calm down" and defend the Government's record.

The Prime Minister was planning to make an impassioned defence of his commitment to "compassionate Conservatism" in a Commons statement this afternoon but toxic in-fighting continued in the wake of Iain Duncan Smith's resignation.

Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes today echoed Mr Duncan Smith, telling the Standard that "the risk of a divided society" was more important than party unity.

He said: "The concern about PIPs [personal independence payment] cuts was based on social justice and it is the cause which should unite the party as its central mission to deliver the Prime Minister's 'all-out assault on poverty'. What matters is not so much the risk of a divided party but a divided society." Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, a family doctor, said Mr Osborne was facing "very serious charges" and should come back to Parliament to "revise" his Budget decisions.

"I think there may need to be a signal that he is going to come back and revise some of these plans and revise the balance of where the burden falls." She demanded: "Today, when David Cameron stands up, he has to reaffirm the message that led many people like myself to join the Conservative Party in the first place when he became leader. Are we about social justice? Are we about spreading the burden fairly? We need to hear that very clear message today."

Mr Clark toured the media this morning urging Conservatives to "come together again" and to avoid "scrapping" in public. The Communities Secretary said: "I don't think it should be civil war at all because actually Iain and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have worked very successfully together over the years, for example, to get more people into work than ever before, to have fewer children in workless households. …

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