Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the Conservative Party would lose even more seats than last week’s disastrous election should they lurch to the centre.

The former Leader of the Commons also warned against harbouring resentment to Reform voters, saying the party’s ‘number one priority’ should be to win them back.

Speaking to GB News, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Many years ago, I visited the live animal market in Canton. All sorts of animals were in cages awaiting their fate. I was even offered a bear’s paw, but the only animals that were fighting were the rats.

“This was not supposed to be an educational experience for a one-day Tory MP, but the infighting in the party has started.

“Reports have suggested Tory leader hopeful Kemi Badenoch castigated Rishi Sunak for not informing the cabinet about the election announcement, with the leak suggesting she said it bordered on being unconstitutional.

“Meanwhile, former home secretary Suella Braverman has lambasted the party for ousting Boris Johnson and stopping members from choosing the Prime Minister after Liz Truss’s resignation.

“The party now, for the first time in 14 years, is in opposition, and we need to get used to it through a period of reflection and humility. But it is essential that the spirit of collective responsibility continues.

“For all of Rishi Sunak’s mistakes, everyone who was in government shares the responsibility of what happened: the mistakes that were made, the uninspiring message that we sold to the country. And this responsibility extends to all Tories, current members and former ones like me.

“As our leading lights boost their campaigning activity to take over the leadership after Sunak’s tenure comes to an end, they all ought to bear in mind the following lessons.

“The Conservative Party is not entitled to anyone’s vote. We must not harbour any resentment towards voters for the Reform Party, the 4 million votes that it got, because many of those people could have gone to the Tories if we had won them over.

“Reform merely connected with the voters we failed to inspire. It should surely be number one on our agenda to win Reform voters back into the Tory party.

“And we don’t win elections from the centre. Any attempt to indulge that narrative that our only problem was drifting too far to the right is fanciful.

“If the next leader takes that view, he or she should expect to lose even more seats.

“We also have to govern competently. After 14 years in power with record funding for all sorts of public services, it was clear that taxpayers money was not always being spent well, sometimes even being wasted.

“And finally, unity is a consequence of success, not the precursor. Backbenchers, including me, rebelled against Theresa May and that paved the way for Boris Johnson’s magnificent election victory.

“The party was united under him as long as he was successful. While I supported the Prime Minister remaining in office until the election, it could have been sensible to have changed, and had another leader. But that may have been going too far, even for patient Tory voters.”