Nicky Morgan: Theresa May must plan for her exit

Top Tory Nicky Morgan has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to pave the way for a replacement leader to revive the party as it reels from June’s disastrous General Election result.

Speaking exclusively to City A.M., former Cabinet minister Morgan – who is now parliament’s top financial watchdog – also warned the City against damaging its world famous reputation by bending rules to facilitate mega-listings such as that proposed by Saudi Aramco.

On the subject of the Conservatives’ future, Morgan said it would be “difficult for [May] to lead us in the next General Election, given this year’s campaign”. Comparing the party to a company, she said: “Any board should always be succession planning. Any chairman or chief executive should always be thinking about how to bring the next generation on.”

Read more: Odds slashed overnight on Theresa May stepping down this month

Morgan named junior ministers such as Damian Hinds, Brandon Lewis and Claire Perry, and backbenchers such as Tom Tugendhat and Victoria Atkins, as being “really talented” MPs ripe for promotion in the future.

However, a wave of new faces would not be enough to regenerate the party, she said, criticising the recent conference at which a number of senior Tories resorted to warning against a return to Labour’s mismanagement of the economy in the 1970s. “You may as well be talking about the 1870s,” she said.

Morgan, who said her sacking after May came to power last year was “not comfortable for either of us”, believes the Prime Minister has become more receptive to ideas, both from her own colleagues and businesses, since the election, and welcomed yesterday’s open letter to the 3m EU citizens currently living in the UK.

But initially May had used “language that wasn’t helpful” and had “made the process painful for many people”.

Read more: May says she wants to lead the Conservatives into the next General Election

Morgan criticised May’s persistence on the inclusion of student migration figures in the government’s target of reducting net immigration below 100,000 per year. The Office for National Statistics’ latest estimates had driven “a coach and horses through” the PM’s arguments, she said.

Morgan said May was increasingly isolated on the subject, and that while the PM was “convinced, my understanding is pretty much all the ministers do not agree with her [on student migrants]”.

Against the backdrop of Brexit, the Treasury Select Committee chair said it was vital to show “we are truly global Britain, open for business” – but not at any cost.

Alluding to proposals to ease London listing rules, a move that could attract Middle Eastern oil giant Saudi Aramco’s huge flotation, Morgan said: “Reputations are hard won and easily lost. There are times when you have to say you are not going to compromise your principles to just say yes to somebody who wants to come here.”

Full story: Nicky Morgan: Theresa May must plan for her exit: City A.M.