Tory MP Opposed To Housing Targets Admits Crisis Has Not Affected Anyone Close To Her

The Tory MP who helped block efforts for more homes to be built has admitted the housing crisis has not affected anyone close to her.

Theresa Villiers last year led a backbench rebellion forcing levelling up secretary Michal Gove to abandon plans to impose compulsory house building targets on local councils.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the former cabinet minister said ensuring Gove did not try to resurrect his proposals remained her “big priority”.

But asked if the housing shortage affect anyone close to her, she said: “Not... not really in my family, no.”

In what the newspaper described as a halting reply, the MP for Chipping Barnet added: “I’ve... I’ve certainly discussed this with many constituents... I mean, I think I, I, I’ve had the conversation with both the, sort of, the younger generation and their parents who are sometimes living with their older children in a way that they didn’t expect.”

Villiers, according to the interview, “cannot name an example of someone’s housing story that touched her,” when asked.

Rishi Sunak is under pressure from Tory MPs following the local elections which saw nearly 1,000 Tory councillors lose their jobs, as voters turned last week to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

As the post-mortem was under way, former levelling up secretary Simon Clarke said the prime minister’s “major mistake” of dropping housebuilding had played a role in the poor performance.

Clarke argued that the government’s attempts to “pander to the public’s worst instincts” of Nimbyism – wanting building but “not in my backyard” – was failing.

Sunak caved in to pressure from Tory backbenchers to make the target of building 300,000 houses a year in England advisory rather than mandatory and has argued there is little support for “top-down targets”.

Some argue that while housebuilding may be needed to increase the chances of holding on to the northern voters won over by Boris Johnson, it will be damaging to the Tories’ chances in their more traditional southern heartlands.