VVD divisions grow as Rutte warns Verdonk

Liberal (VVD) leader Mark Rutte has warned the party’s MPs to focus on their role in parliament or ‘get lost’. The comments, directed at Rita Verdonk, who narrowly lost out to Rutte in last year’s leadership contest, are contained in an interview in today’s Telegraaf.

Last week, Verdonk told magazine HP/De Tijd that Rutte was not ‘right wing’ and that the party needed a ‘decent right-winger’ in the top job.
Rutte told the paper that MPs should concentrate on the job they had been allocated. ‘This is a hard and fast rule which I will stick to,’ he told the paper. ‘Rita is spokeswoman for education and youth services and that is the only thing she should be talking to the media about. Those who cannot put the liberal vision first, can buzz off.’
Verdonk, who became known for her hardline stand on immigration and integration as a minister in the last government, is more popular than Rutte with VVD voters.
Several days after the election she attempted to force a coup within the party after attracting more preference votes than Rutte.
On Wednesday, the official report into the VVD’s election performance is due to be published. A leaked version blamed in part the conflict between Rutte and Verdonk. The VVD lost almost 25% of its seats in the November election and how has 22.

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