Government 'to focus on key issues'

Lancashire Telegraph: George Osborne insists the Government is concentrating on the economy George Osborne insists the Government is concentrating on the economy

George Osborne has pledged the Government will "focus on the things that really matter" as backbenchers continued to heap criticism on the leadership in the wake of the election drubbing.

The Chancellor insisted he was "straining every effort" on tackling the economy as he sought to distance the Conservatives from House of Lords reforms and plans for gay marriage.

But veteran Tory Brian Binley said the verdict at the ballot box was a "major setback" for the party and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to "wake up and smell the coffee" while backbencher Bob Stewart urged Conservative high command to "listen" to the unrest in the nation and called for some "sanity" in next week's Queen's speech.

Former minister Tim Yeo insisted it was "not too late" to push highly divisive House of Lords reform to the "bottom of the queue" as the Government finalises the coalition's legislative programme and earlier, maverick Tory Nadine Dorries warned the leadership it could be ousted by Christmas.

Mr Osborne insisted he had taken the message from voters that ministers should not get "distracted" by issues other than the economy.

While he was "personally in favour" of gay marriage, there had never been plans to bring forward a Bill next week, he added.

The Chancellor said the party was committed in its manifesto to "looking" at Lords reform, which is set to tie up Parliament in hours of debate, but it was "not the priority of the Government".

Mr Osborne told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "I think what people are saying is focus on the things that really matter, focus on the economy and on education and welfare. Focus on those things, don't get distracted by too many other issues."

He dismissed suggestions that voters had deserted the Conservatives in the elections as a result of gay marriage proposals or Lords reform as "clearly not the case".

He added: "We are focused on the really important issues that matter to people. Parliament can discuss these issues, Parliament is very good at discussing these issues, but it is certainly not my priority, the priority of the Government. It is not where the efforts of the Government and the executive are going to be directed."

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