Suella Braverman: Tories in 'dire position' and 'good MPs will lose seats' at general election

Suella Braverman has admitted the Tories are in a "dire position" with "very good MPs" likely to lose their seats at the general election.

The former home secretary, who was sacked in November, told the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge: "There's a new poll every day confirming my worst fears, that being that Labour is on the brink of assuming power. And that's something that fills me with dread."

Politics Live: Braverman joins Tory critics of announcements

Asked if she thinks Rishi Sunak should be replaced, she said she "fully expects" him to lead the Conservatives into the next election and she has not submitted a letter of no confidence in him.

She added: "What I want is for him to win this election because ultimately at the moment it looks like we're in a dire position. It looks like some very good Tory MPs are going to lose their seats."

Labour is currently ahead by about 20 points in the polls, with some pundits predicting a 1997-style wipeout that could see dozens of senior Conservative MPs lose their seats.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt faced calls from some corners of the party, including Ms Braverman, to cut personal income tax in his spring budget to give the Conservatives a fighting chance at the election, expected later this year.

However, Mr Hunt opted for the cheaper tax cut of reducing national insurance (NI) instead.

The 2p reduction to NI announced today comes on top of a 2p cut announced in the autumn statement and means workers will save on average £900 a year - though critics point out the overall tax burden is set to rise to a record high.

Ms Braverman told Sky News the budget "lacked something vivid to tell the British people we're on their side", and that she has "constantly been urging the prime minister to change course and be bolder".

Asked if she still has ambitions to become party leader, she said there is "no vacancy at the moment" and "I'm not going to speculate on what might happen in the future".

Pressed further, she said she has "an authentic vision of what the Conservative Party is".

"But no, I'm not running for leader time soon," she added.

Ms Braverman unsuccessfully ran to be Tory leader after Boris Johnson resigned and there was speculation she still harboured these ambitions after her exit from the home office.

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Since being sacked she has accused Mr Sunak of "failing to deliver" on key policies, with frequent interventions of the stalled plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Other senior Tories to criticise the budget today include former cabinet ministers Sir David Davis, Dame Priti Patel and Lord David Frost.

Sir David said he would have "gone for reducing income tax" because this "applies to people over the age of 65, it will also keep people in the workforce, highly skilled, highly capable people who we don't want to retire at the moment".

Lord Frost said a 2p cut to national insurance is "fiddling while Rome burns".

Mr Hunt told Sky News he chose to cut national insurance because it will benefit workers and "that is what's going to help to grow the economy".

He said his budget today was "absolutely not" the last throw of the dice before an election.

Asked if Downing Street is working towards an autumn election, and potentially another fiscal event, he said: "That's the working assumption. But in the end, it's a choice the prime minister make."