The Conservatives must “change hard” to win over young voters who backed Labour in June’s general election, Theresa May’s most senior minister has warned.
Damian Green told Tories to modernise after losing their majority in the general election and trailing behind Labour by 30% among voters aged 18-35.
The first secretary of state said the party should appeal to “excluded voters” at a speech in London.
It comes amid signals the government could ease off on austerity.
On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in the capital to demonstrate against the government’s economic policies.
Speaking at the Bright Blue liberal conservative think-tank’s conference in central London, Mr Green said a new “city Conservativism” would woo young, metropolitan voters.
This would involve highlighting existing Tory policies to build 1.5 million homes by 2022 and the devolution of power to British cities.
Mr Green also suggested there was a “national debate that we need to have” about university tuition fees.
During the questions, he said it was a “huge issue” to make sure young people think university education is worth the cost.
“I think in the long term we’ve got to show that they are getting value for the money,” he said.
But he said lowering fees would mean “either fewer people go to university or the experience would be less”.
Mr Green, effectively Mrs May’s deputy prime minister, said that “root” of the Conservatives’ failure to win a majority last month lay in those aged between 18 and 35.
“I am not standing here and saying all we need to do is keep calm and carry on,” he said. “We need to think hard, work hard and change hard.
“We need to show how Conservative values and policies can work for those parts of the country, and parts of the population, who have turned away from us.”
He said: “If we are to bring young, educated, working Britain back to the Conservative Party, we need to make a reality of the promise to build a country that works for everyone.”
On housing, Mr Green promised the Conservatives would build “high-quality” homes, including social housing that creates “sustainable and integrated communities”.