Culture secretary Lucy Frazer has become the second cabinet minister to take a £100 bet that the Conservatives will win the next election – but stopped short of staking £1,000, citing her role in charge of gambling.
The Tories have been warned by Britain’s top pollster they are heading for potentially a landslide defeat at the general election, and that this week’s annual party conference risks being a “wake”.
In an interview with The Independent, Ms Frazer said “yes” when asked if she would bet this publication £100 her party would be victorious.
However, she declined to bet £1,000, joking “I’m also in charge of gambling, so I think let’s leave it there”.
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary also bet £100 that the Conservatives would win next year’s general election, in an interview with the Sun on Sunday newspaper.
But a Tory rising star has predicted the Conservatives will lose the next general election.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said he would not bet on the party “at the moment” but said a win for the party is “still possible”.
Asked whether he would take the bet, Lord Houchen told Sky News: “Not at the moment. We need to do more to give people the excuse to vote Conservative.”
And chairman of the Conservatives has said the party will be the “underdogs” going into the next election.
Greg Hands said MPs and activists will have had “difficult conversations” on the doorstep in recent years, “I certainly have”.
He aded: “This is likely to be a general election, that the Conservatives enter as the underdogs.”
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to convince voters to think again about the Conservatives at what is expected to be their last conference before voters go to the polls.
But the first day of conference risks being dominated by rows about HS2, tax and immigration.
In an interview, Ms Frazer also described the recent scandal involving GB News as “totally outrageous” but said the channel had apologised. The station suspended Laurence Fox after he made a series of comments about the journalist Ava Evans, including suggesting no one would want to “shag” her.
More widely she said she thought both the media and society still had further improvements to make in how they treat women.
“I think that we have come a significant way … in terms of the way that we treat women, and obviously the roles that women hold, and breaking of various glass ceilings. I don’t think we have finished on that journey.”
She also accused Labour of “talking down” the UK and the economy.
Speaking of the sector she is in charge of, she said: “I think the Labour Party talks the country down, talks down the economy and how we’re doing. And I think we should embrace the fantastic culture that we have here and be extremely proud of it.”
As the cabinet minister for sport, she also predicted the Commonwealth Games would continue long into the future, despite recent difficulties.
Victoria in Australia pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games in July, citing spiralling costs.
Asked if she thought there would still be Commonwealth Games in decades to come, Ms Frazer said: “Yes, I do. And I very much hope so. Because I think the Commonwealth is a really important part of our alliances as a country. And I also think that there is massive benefit to having international games hosted in different countries. So we saw that the Commonwealth Games hosted here brought in a massive amount of economic benefit to Birmingham and I think that it brings also something that you can’t measure in terms of money, which is when you host international sporting events, like the Commonwealth Games or the World Cup, there’s huge energy in an area that you can’t replicate in financial terms.”
On the axe hanging over the HS2 rail link to Manchester, a story first revealed by The Independent, she said that the government had put billions of pounds into the north of England and “whatever the decision on HS2 we will continue to invest in the north.”