The Conservative Party are “frightened” of the Brexit Party, according to the mayor of Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham suggested that the five remaining Tory leadership hopefuls - who were all questioned during Tuesday's TV debate - should spend more time talking about a Brexit "compromise".
He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “The danger for the Tory party is that it is chasing the Brexit Party into the distance.
“It should be speaking to Remain voters if they are talking about uniting the country. They are going to have to talk more about compromise rather than 'who has got the toughest stance on no-deal'," adding that otherwise the party could make a "historic mistake”.
“It is meant to be a party of the whole country that is able to unite but it is so frightened by the Brexit Party that it seems to be abandoning that space,” he said.
Mr Burnham, who ran to be Labour leader twice, said Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart differentiated himself from the other candidates during the debate.
“Whilst other candidates were talking about tax cuts, [Rory Stewart] said we should instead invest in public services,” he said.
“If Rory develops that theme, I think he could strike a real chord with the Tory grassroots.”
During the BBC TV debate, Mr Johnson was criticised by Michael Gove for suggesting anyone earning over £50,000 should get a tax cut, and the money Mr Stewart suggested would be better spent on public services.
Speaking during the debate, Mr Gove said: "Cutting taxes for folk who earn what MPs earn and what millionaires earn; I think that is wrong".