Rishi Sunak has admitted that the government ditched national housebuilding targets because Tory members don’t like them.
In a startling confession, the prime minister said he had climbed down after listening to party activists during last summer’s Conservative leadership election.
Sunak was forced into a humiliating U-turn last December when he abandoned moves to force local councils to adhere to mandatory housing targets in the face of a major rebellion by Tory MPs.
Critics say the move will make it even harder for young people to get on the property ladder.
In an interview with the ConservativeHome website this afternoon, the PM admitted he had ditched the government’s 300,000-a-year new homes target to satisfy the party’s grassroots.
He said: “I spent a lot of the time over the summer when I was talking to so many of our members, so many of our councillors, about our planning system and their views on it.
“What I heard, consistently, particularly from our councillors and our members, was what they didn’t want was a nationally-imposed, top down set of targets imposed telling them what to do.”
A Labour source said: “Sunak has let the cat out the bag.
“If you’ve ever wondered why the Tories aren’t building houses it’s because their activists have told them not to.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the prime minister also refused to say whether his pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel will be met by the next election.
It was one of five pledges Sunak made to voters at the start of the year.
He also to cut waiting lists, halve inflation, grow the economy and bring down the national debt.
However, it was confirmed today that waiting lists have hit a record high and GDP flatlined in February.