Theresa May predicts Tories can win the next general election

Theresa May has predicted the Conservatives can win the next general election, thanks to Rishi Sunak.

Mrs May, whose successor Boris Johnson was forced out of No 10 in the wake of the Partygate scandal, said Mr Sunak could “show people that a Conservative government can be on their side”.

With two years to go, the current prime minister had enough time to “turn it round and … win that election,” she said.

But she also called on Mr Sunak to remember the impact blocking a new trans law in Scotland would have “on people” and not to water down her modern slavery legislation.

Polls suggest the Conservatives are heavily trailing Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party.

A key ally of Mr Johnson, former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, has even suggested he could be back in Downing Street by Christmas if trends continue.

But there are some signs of improvement after the Tories fell to a more than 30-point deficit in the wake of Liz Truss’s mini-Budget.

Ms May, who has remained an MP, said: “There’s no doubt that the mini-Budget had an impact on the Conservative Party’s reputation for sound money and sound public finances.”

“But I think what we’ve seen already with the new chancellor and a new prime minister is taking the process of re-establishing that reputation. And I think from everything we’ve seen from Rishi so far that actually, he’s going to be able to turn that round by the next election. I see that we can in – those two years – show people that a Conservative government can be on their side and that he can turn it round and we can win that election,” she told Radio 4’s PM programme.

She also acknowledged she was disappointed the Westminster government had not moved in a similar direction as Scotland on gender recognition laws.

During her time in No 10 she launched a consultation on how to make it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis.

“But the government has looked again at it and has taken the decision that it has,” she said.

She appeared to back Mr Sunak’s government’s decision to look at the law, passed by the Scottish Parliament last week, although she cautioned him to remember the impact before taking any steps to block it.

“It is important when any part of the UK is looking at legislation that only affects that part of the UK, that thought is given to what the impact would be on the Union,” she said. “But at the end of the day it is about people, and it’s about the impact it would have on people.”

On Friday Mr Sunak said: “Lots of people have got concerns about this new bill in Scotland, about the impact it will have on women’s and children’s safety.

“So I think it is completely reasonable for the UK government to have a look at it, understand what the consequences are for women and children’s safety in the rest of the UK, and then decide on what the appropriate course of action is.”

Mrs May also urged Mr Sunak not to “reduce our world leading protections for victims of modern slavery.”

It was important not to inadvertently create new loopholes, she warned. “So, for example, there’s talk of requiring more evidence from individuals. If you’re somebody who’s been trafficked here as a sex slave, and you manage to find your way out of that and look to somebody for help, the chances are you probably haven’t got a piece of paper or a written statement from somebody to say “You’ve been in slavery”,” she said.

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