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My most recent post on Liz Truss left off with the beginning of the end in her final week as Conservative Party leader.

Friday, October 14

Her sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng and installation of Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor on Friday, October 14, meant only one thing — her end was nigh:

Liz Truss’s first Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng: what he expected, what he got instead (October 13, 14)

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng illustrate that one DAY is a long time in politics (October 13, 14)

The Times‘s headline on the morning of the 14th said that Conservative MPs were already plotting to install Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt in Truss’s place. One of them would be Prime Minister and the other would be Chancellor or Foreign Secretary:

The article also said (purple emphases mine):

Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, are expected within days to make a humiliating climbdown over corporation tax in an effort to calm the markets and see off a mounting revolt.

Indeed, that is what Truss announced at her disastrous press conference that afternoon. By then, Jeremy Hunt was already Chancellor:

It was hard to believe, especially as Ireland’s corporation tax is half that: 12.5%. What is to stop businesses in Northern Ireland from moving south of the border?

Liz prefaced the announcement with:

This is difficult.

Guido Fawkes has the video and another quote preceding her announcement about corporation tax:

It is clear that parts of our mini-Budget went further and faster than markets were expecting… so the way we are delivering has to change…

He concluded (emphases his):

The mother of all U-turns…

Later in the afternoon, Wendy Morton, the Chief Whip, summoned Conservative MPs to an online call with the Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey.

One hundred of them dialled in. Coffey allegedly kept staring at her notes:

Saturday, October 15

Saturday’s papers were scathing.

The Daily Mail asked, ‘How much more can she (and the rest of us) take?’

The i paper led with ‘Tory MPs tell Truss: “It’s over”‘:

The Telegraph‘s Tom Harris wrote about the symbiotic relationship between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor from Margaret Thatcher’s time to Truss’s.

When that relationship goes wrong in a big way, it’s nearly always bad news for the PM, although there are exceptions:

When a prime minister loses a long-serving chancellor and ally – as Margaret Thatcher did when Nigel Lawson walked out of her government in 1989 – the political ramifications are enormous. In Thatcher’s case, that event signalled the beginning of her long defeat. When a prime minister loses a friend too, it becomes, as Liz Truss stated in her press conference, “not an easy” personal moment. 

Their closeness also makes it impossible for Truss to distance herself from the mess left at the Treasury. It is not clear which policy Kwarteng implemented that the prime minister was so unhappy with that she had to fire him. In 1989, Lawson resigned over his objection to the prime minister’s reliance on her economic adviser, Sir Alan Walters, but there were already disagreements between Numbers 10 and 11 over whether Britain should join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. 

[John Major’s Norman] Lamont was fired over his handling of Britain’s departure from the same institution. Javid resigned over personnel issues. Rishi Sunak’s reasons for resigning were similar, though in his case the personnel issue involved the then prime minister himself.

In Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss might be given a chance to form the kind of reassuring, mutually supportive – and, crucially, stable – relationship with her chancellor that good government demands. It would be foolish, however, to assume that when such a relationship breaks down, it is always the chancellor who is next to go.

The Telegraph‘s Camilla Tominey looked at the backbench Conservative MPs, wondering how Conservative they actually were. I was glad to see that she mentioned Alicia Kearns, who does not seem very Conservative to me.

Tominey’s article shows that a significant number of Conservative backbenchers do not hold traditional Conservative Party values:

Never underestimate the Conservative Party’s unparalleled ability to turn the gun on itself when coming under enemy fire. As the pot shots continued to rain thick and fast on Liz Truss’s troubled premiership, what did the Tories decide to do? With Labour’s help, they elected Alicia Kearns as chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

For those unfamiliar with Ms Kearns, she is the former Amnesty International activist who led the so-called “Pork Pie Plot” to oust Boris Johnson over partygate. Despite having been an MP for all of five minutes, the 34-year-old, who won the safe seat of Rutland and Melton in 2019 (hence the pork pie theme) decided that the Conservatives’ wisest move was to remove the man who secured the party’s biggest election win since 1987. Well, dip me in jellied pork stock and cover me in hot-crust pastry, that went swimmingly!

Having declared last year that she came into Parliament with “one legislative change I wanted to deliver, which was to ban conversion therapy”, inexperienced Kearns now occupies one of the most influential posts in the House of Commons.

Her first intervention? Following hot on the heels of her fellow chair, Mel Stride, of outspoken Treasury select committee fame, she used a radio interview on Thursday night to urge the Prime Minister to reverse the tax-cutting measures in the mini-Budget.

I’ve got nothing personally against Ms Kearns – she is clearly a thoughtful and intelligent woman. But if she isn’t for cutting tax, then what on earth is she doing in the Tory party, let alone now apparently in the running to enter a future Conservative Cabinet?

One former minister was this week quoted as saying: “Everything [the Government] are doing is everything that I don’t believe in.” Why, then, is that senior politician – apparently so opposed to spending controls and economic growth – not currently residing on Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow front bench or drinking Remaineraid with Sir Ed Davey?

As former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost put it on Thursday: “There are too many … social democrats operating under Conservative cover.”

It is one thing to be a broad church, but the Tories are currently taking on the mantle of a Blue Labour cult.

Not only are many of them perfectly comfortable with taxing people more, despite the tax burden being at its highest in 70 years, but they are also apparently as opposed to fracking as Ed Miliband. They seem to love the status quo and appear happy to watch Britain slowly sink into decline – along with their own party.

Tominey says that Liz Truss’s platform was clasically Conservative, and so was the one upon which Alicia Kearns was elected.

These are the MPs who will determine the outcome of Brexit and the next election. Both are in peril.

Tominey rightly lays the blame at the feet of former PM David Cameron, a wet who wanted a different type of Conservative MP:

David Cameron’s decision to introduce open primaries in the late 2000s, which saw wannabe MPs selected by non-members as well as members, was perhaps the most obvious mistake. The Conservatives ended up with “yellow” Tories in its ranks, such as Sarah Wollaston, who later defected to the Liberal Democrats.

Funnily enough, Sarah Wollaston is no longer an MP. Others like her, most of whom had the whip removed, were defeated or chose not to run in 2019.

This is the issue:

But more broadly, by inviting people with no background in Conservative politics to stand for Parliament, they ended up with people with no Tory backbone either. Holding successive snap elections only made the selection process less rigorous and open to people high on ambition and low on ideology.

This is a problem for the next general election. GEs depend upon local activists — party members — who are willing to canvass door-to-door:

We now have the Sunak squadders, calling for people to keep less of their wages, for businesses to pay more in corporation tax and for benefits to be linked to inflation, Corbyn-style …

Conservatives have become so detached from reality that they actually believe this will help them to win the next general election – even though it promises to prompt a mass walkout by the very grass-roots activists they rely on to run a campaign.

However, Tominey says that Rishi Sunak’s coronavirus handouts have also altered the public perception of the role of the state. We can but see how this will play in 2024 or early 2025 when the next GE comes along.

Monday, October 17

On Monday, October 17, Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt had to stand in for Truss during a debate. Opposition MPs accused Truss of hiding under a desk.

Mordaunt had to deny that more than once, saying that Truss had a ‘very genuine reason’ for not being present.

I don’t often feel sorry for Penny Mordaunt, but I did that day:

However, one Labour MP, Andrew Gwynne, tweeted that Liz Truss was the victim of a ‘coup’ — his word — and that Jeremy Hunt was the acting PM:

https://image.vuukle.com/f6a3e1ae-5984-48dd-8fe4-cb0a5368b71b-404bcb3a-bd15-43df-b0b6-f4920edde5c7

On Tuesday, October 18, The Times explained why Truss did not turn up at the despatch box the day before:

For much of the day Truss was conspicuous by her absence. She refused to respond to a question by Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons, prompting accusations from Labour that she was “frit”. Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, answered questions in her stead. She said that the prime minister had “a very good reason” for her absence but refused to explain further, prompting misplaced speculation that Truss had resigned.

That reason for her absence turned out to be a meeting with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee. Sources said that the meeting was routine and had been arranged before Kwarteng’s dismissal. But the issue of her leadership, and a potential revolt by Tory MPs, was said to have been discussed.

One source on the committee said there were a “number of views” on the way ahead but that there were concerns that an immediate move to defenestrate the prime minister could further destabilise the markets.

“The question is whether it is more damaging to create further uncertainty by getting rid of the prime minister when the chancellor [Hunt] appears to have settled the markets,” said an MP on the committee.

Some Tory MPs believe that with the unravelling of her tax-cutting agenda and signature energy policy she is finished politically. Sir Charles Walker became the fifth Conservative MP to publicly call for her to go, saying her position was “untenable”.

A senior Conservative source added: “It’s the biggest unforced humiliation for a British government since Suez. Eden did the decent thing and resigned.”

“The trouble is there is no consensus for who should replace her,” said one former backer of Rishi Sunak. “And the last thing we need now is to be seen to be causing more uncertainty on the financial markets.”

Monday night was grim.

On the subject of a coup, Nigel Farage agreed that Jeremy Hunt was in charge, and that this was a ‘globalist coup’:

https://image.vuukle.com/f9d07d03-d334-4051-8724-6f4fa2ddda17-ae8bf94e-7f5a-4ffd-9a52-0e6022d7356a

On his GB News show that night, Dan Wootton also said that there had been a coup. He agreed that the unpopular Hunt was in charge and that no one liked him, except for the Establishment. He said that if the Conservatives allowed this to continue, then they deserve to lose the next GE:

https://image.vuukle.com/f6a3e1ae-5984-48dd-8fe4-cb0a5368b71b-8e6e7a67-592c-457b-b72e-c0ac239a343b

Truss surfaced to give an interview to the BBC’s Chris Mason, wherein she apologised for the mini-budget. She said:

First of all, I do want to accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made. I wanted to act, to help people with their energy bills, to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast. I have acknowledged that.

Tuesday, October 18

Tuesday’s headlines were deeply discouraging for her. Nearly all had photos of her alongside Hunt:

The new biography of Truss, Out of the Blue, was not even ready for publication. Someone photoshopped the cover with a remainder sticker on it, saying, ‘Reduced for quick sale — please just take it’:

https://image.vuukle.com/98cdcb40-7d3c-4d74-8d23-f9daebdfd1a1-93607ebf-9abe-4f09-a639-03c36aff8641

The Sun‘s political editor, Harry Cole, one of the book’s co-authors, posted an article about the MPs plotting against her:

TORY plotters dubbed the “Balti Bandits” carved up Liz Truss’s future last night over a korma and bhuna feast, The Sun reveals.

Leading rebel Mel Stride hosted more than a dozen “miserable” Conservative MPs in his large House of Commons office for an Indian takeaway – with the PM’s fate also on the table.

Ex-Ministers John Glen, Nick Gibb, Mark Garnier and Shailesh Vara tucked into “lashings of curry and naan” ordered in by Mr Stride, alongside outspoken backbencher Simon Hoare. 

2019 intake MPs Angela Richardson and Simon Baynes were also said to have joined the “poppadum plot” – but sources say the meeting ended with “no credible solution” to their woes

Contenders include ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt – but given the party is deeply split, the plotters admitted the chances of a rapid “coronation” of a new PM were “almost zero.”

One attendee told The Sun: “the vast majority of attendees were Rishi Sunak supporters, but there were Penny people too. It was not a Rishi thing.” 

On Tuesday evening, Truss had another group angry with her — her own supporters in the European Research Group, the pro-Brexit group of backbench Conservative MPs.

The Telegraph‘s Tim Stanley wrote about it, as he was there in the corridor for Truss’s meeting with them:

Liz Truss launched her fightback at 6pm in Committee Room 11. The meeting was actually set for 5pm; Commons voting ran late so Mark Francois advised us hacks to go away and come back later, but I hung around on the suspicion that the moment we left, Liz would slip out of her hiding place in the roof of the lift and jog, unseen, into the Room …

These are the true believers: if they’re angry at Liz for anything, it’s for not keeping the mini-Budget

What we saw of her on TV on Monday night, interviewed by Chris Mason, did not spark confidence as she uttered that dread word “sorry”, thus accepting personal responsibility for blunders past and future. It is the mark of an “honest politician”, she said, to admit mistakes. That’s true, but it’s also a dead giveaway for a not-very-good one, trying to turn a repeated error into a display of moral virtue. As Samuel Johnson might have said, “Honesty is the last refuge of the incompetent”.

She bobbed into view in a dark blue dress and black tights – fresh-faced, one suspects, from a good night’s sleep. Instinctively, I stood: she might be a PM, but she’s still a lady. I earnt a cheeky nod. Those who can’t fathom the rise of Ms Truss haven’t met her. She has a way of compromising you, of making you think you’re on her side, and it’s the most fun side of the room to be on.

The ERG roared as she entered. She entertained them behind a closed door for about 45 minutes. Then she left, followed by Mr Francois who told us it was “a very positive meeting”.

The PM evidently spoke about Northern Ireland and her commitment to raising defence spending by the end of the decade, which is ambitious for a woman who could be out of office by Friday. And he noted that David Canzini, the clever political operative, was with her, an eminence so grise, none of us had noticed he’d gone in.

No 10 confirmed it: he was hired as of that morning.

Too little too late. That might have been Canzini’s shortest job.

Wednesday, October 19

On Wednesday, October 19, Guido Fawkes posted that the Reform Party — formerly the Brexit Party — was climbing in the polls. The photo shows their chairman, businessman Richard Tice:

Guido’s post said, in part:

Guido can reveal that in the 48 hours before close of play yesterday afternoon, the old Brexit Party received almost 1000 new £25 membership sign-ups. That new five-figure cash boost was joined by 300 members registering a new interest in standing as a party candidate at the next election. The first time the Tories dipped below Labour in the polls – September 2021 – Reform saw one in 10 Tory voters switching to them. Can they continue capitalising on Liz’s woes?

It’s not just Reform benefitting from the dire state of No. 10. Last night the LibDems revealed five new donors, each giving £50,000 to the party, one of whom is a former Tory donor. While the last 36 hours have been calmer for Truss, it does feel like the ship has sprung one too many leaks to be repaired by a strong PMQs performance…

Wednesday was another fateful day. Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned, then a confusing scene took place in the voting lobby over a division (vote) on fracking, which resulted in more chaos when it was unclear whether Wendy Morton had resigned as Chief Whip:

Liz Truss’s final 24 hours: Suella Braverman’s resignation, question over Whips’ resignations (October 19)

Truss appointed Grant Shapps, former Transport Secretary, in Braverman’s place:

Holy mole, guacamole!

Nigel Farage repeated ‘coup’ in his tweet about the news:

As with Hunt, Truss had to scrape the barrel.

The Telegraph reported that, like Hunt, Shapps was not a Truss supporter:

It is a remarkable turnaround for Mr Shapps, the transport secretary under Boris Johnson who went on to become a prominent supporter of Ms Truss’s leadership rival Rishi Sunak.

Only on Monday night, Mr Shapps was telling a theatre audience that he believed Ms Truss had a “Mount Everest to climb” to remain in power.

“I don’t think there’s any secret she has a mountain, a Mount Everest to climb,” he told Matt Forde’s podcast. “What she needs to do is like threading the eye of a needle with the lights off.”

Now he is one of her most senior ministers – and another example of the way a weakened Ms Truss is being forced to offer olive branches to the Sunak supporters she had previously shunned.

Not only was Mr Shapps questioning her chances of success until as early as this week – he was working proactively to get rid of her.

Mr Shapps has been viewed in Westminster as one of the leaders of the opposition to Truss’s libertarian policies.

He spoke up at the Tory party conference in Birmingham earlier this month against her plans to scrap the 45p rate of income tax, and warned that Ms Truss had “10 days” to turn things around or MPs “might as well roll the dice and elect a new leader”.

This is what the aforementioned Camilla Tominey was lamenting in Conservative MPs. Some of the recent ones have no appreciation of or allegiance to Conservative values. Shapps was a Cameronian MP.

The article also discussed Shapps’s famous spreadsheets which appear to work as well as the 1922 Committee in making or breaking a Prime Minister:

The veteran MP – known by some as the “Duracell Bunny” for his enthusiasm – is also well-known for his “Star Wars” spreadsheet, with which he has spent the past few weeks recording the views of MPs on Ms Truss and her plans.

Mr Shapps used an earlier version of his famous spreadsheet to lead a rebellion against Theresa May, and also utilised its information to help guide Boris Johnson into Downing Street.

The spreadsheet is said to contain more than 6,000 historical “data points” from previous conversations with MPs.

It was rumoured that he had been in contact with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak to see if they would join an effort to oust Ms Truss. And some rebel MPs claimed he had even offered himself up as a caretaker prime minister.

Let us not forget that Shapps himself is hardly a paragon of virtue:

… unfortunately for Mr Shapps, some elements of his past may make a shot at No 10 less than likely – not least the Michael Green saga.

This was an alter-ego he employed to enable him to run a series of get-rich-quick schemes on the internet while he was an MP.

Mr Shapps originally denied he had a second job, and threatened legal action against a constituent who said he had. But he was forced to admit practising business under a pseudonym in March 2015.

All this happened while he was Tory chairman, in charge of David Cameron’s efforts to win the 2015 election.

He was demoted soon after to aid minister, and resigned from that role after claims he had ignored repeated allegations of bullying involving the Tories’ youth organiser. It was said the alleged bullying, which took place on the party’s RoadTrip 2015 campaign, may have caused one party member to commit suicide.

On Wednesday evening, Camilla Tominey reprised her warning about un-Conservative MPs and their takeover of the Government. She, too, used the word ‘coup’:

the departure of Suella Braverman as home secretary speaks to a bigger problem for Liz Truss than sheer optics.

In sacking two key allies on the Right, only for them to be replaced by opponents more to the Left of the party, the Prime Minister is increasingly looking like the victim of a Conservative coup.

It is certainly ironic that the former home secretary, in post for just 43 days, first used that word to describe those who plotted against Ms Truss’s original plan to link benefit to wages rather than inflation

With that, and most of her mini-Budget up in flames thanks to a rebellion by the moderates, Jeremy Hunt now appears to be the de facto Prime Minister.

He will now be joined by his fellow Sunakite Grant Shapps, who despite being rejected from Ms Truss’s original cabinet, has now been appointed to replace Mrs Braverman at the Home Office.

Braverman, at one point, had headed the aforementioned European Research Group:

her swift exit from one of the highest posts in public office will anger her European Research Group supporters.

It was only on Tuesday evening that Ms Truss was said to have charmed the backbench group of Eurosceptics with her honest, straight-talking approach.

They are unlikely to take kindly to their former chairman, a darling of the grassroots, being ejected in such unseemly fashion.

Mrs Braverman, a Conservative leadership candidate herself over the summer, received the longest standing ovation at the Tory Party conference two weeks ago.

Fortunately, Rishi Sunak re-appointed Braverman as Home Secretary. He probably realised he had to, in order to keep Party members on side.

Returning to Wednesday, October 19, The Telegraph posted an article stating that Conservative backbenchers were asking Labour for help in ousting Truss. Unbelievable:

Rebel Tories have been asking Labour MPs to help them overthrow Liz Truss, The Telegraph has been told.

Conservative backbenchers are growing increasingly frustrated with the Prime Minister’s leadership, but currently lack any mechanisms to remove her given the one-year immunity she has from a no confidence vote.

As things stand, the only way to oust Ms Truss would be to change the rules – which is a decision that only the executive of the 1922 committee of backbenchers can make – or if she resigns of her own volition.

One Labour MP told The Telegraph: “Tories are speaking to us saying ‘this is a complete nightmare and there is no way out’. We are being asked ‘can’t you do something about her?’”

The MP, who said their colleagues have reported similar experiences, said they were approached by one Red Wall MP whose constituency was in the north and another MP who is a member of the One Nation group of moderates …

A Labour source said: “There is very little Labour can do. Even a vote of no confidence doesn’t have the constitutional standing that it used to. The Tory party are the ones that elected her, they need to get rid of her.”

The paper’s Michael Deacon wrote that Conservative MPs were entirely to blame for the mess. Furthermore, he said, they risked angering Party members, the campaigning activists, if they pushed ahead with a rule change saying that the members would no longer be able to vote for future Party leaders. The members elected Truss over Sunak in August:

This week, The Telegraph reported that Tory MPs want to bar members from voting in future leadership elections. Supposedly the reason is to speed up the process of choosing a leader. But this is blatantly a smokescreen. Quite plainly, MPs just want to prevent the members from landing them with another turkey like Truss.

Many members are appalled by this suggestion. And so they should be. Such a plan is not just arrogant and undemocratic, it’s delusional. Because party members aren’t to blame for the current mess.

Tory MPs are.

After all, who put Truss on the ballot paper in the first place? Tory MPs. No fewer than 113 of them, in fact. A third of the parliamentary party. Out of an initial field of 11 candidates for the leadership, Truss was the MPs’ second favourite.

Unlike the MPs, however, the party members weren’t allowed to choose between the initial field of 11. If they had been, it’s extremely unlikely that they would have chosen Truss. They’d have been far more likely to choose Penny Mordaunt or Kemi Badenoch, to name just two. In fact, if the MPs had deigned to ask them, I suspect that the greatest number of members would have wanted their leader to be Boris Johnson – the person they chose to be leader in the first place.

The truth is, the members voted for Truss simply because they didn’t want to vote for Rishi Sunak. In leadership contests, they’re only ever given two candidates to choose from. And why? Because Tory MPs don’t trust them. They fear that, if presented with a wide-open field, party members will choose the “wrong” candidate. Funny how things turn out.

All things considered, then, it seems clear that, if anyone should be barred from voting in leadership contests, it should be Tory MPs. In future, just leave it to the wiser judgment of the members instead.

That night, The Telegraph posted an article by Lord Frost saying that the Party was moving towards a status quo, if not anti-Brexit, stance, going all the way back to David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, with George Osborne as Chancellor and Philip Hammond in the same post under Theresa May:

… the Government is implementing neither the programme Liz Truss originally advocated nor the 2019 manifesto. It is going in a completely different direction. We are back to Osbornomics, the continuity Hammond view of the world. There is no shred of a mandate for this. It’s only happening because the Truss Government messed things up more badly than anyone could have imagined, and enabled a hostile takeover by its opponents …

… the correct account of the past few weeks is the simplest. Truss tried to deliver worthwhile reforms and set the country onto a much-needed new direction. I supported this policy direction and still do. But it was rushed and bungled. The markets were spooked. The mistakes were opportunistically seized on by her opponents to undermine her leadership, to blame Brexit, and to stop the party getting out of the social democratic tractor beam of the past few years. And now, under pressure, the Prime Minister has reversed tack completely.

The risk now is that we lose for a generation the opportunity to do anything better. Every time the PM defends her approach, she denounces the policies on which she was chosen. The danger is that necessary and correct reforms are discredited.

Frost held that Truss was ultimately responsible for her own downfall.

As such, she had to go:

We are where we are. I am very sorry about it, because I had such high hopes. Whatever happens to her ministers or the stability of the Government in the next few days, Truss just can’t stay in office for one very obvious reason: she campaigned against the policies she is now implementing. However masterfully she now implements them – and it doesn’t seem that it will be very masterfully – it just won’t do. She said she wouldn’t U-turn, and then she did. Her fate is to be the Henry VI of modern politics – a weak figurehead, unable to control the forces around her, occasionally humiliated, and disposed of when she has become inconvenient. Better to go now.

As for her successor and the Party:

Then the party must do two things: avoid making the economic situation even worse by repeating the policies of the Cameron government in totally different circumstances; and recover some political legitimacy for carrying on – because in our system legitimacy does matter.

Thursday, October 20

After 44 days, Liz Truss resigned as Conservative Party leader on Thursday, October 20.

She served as Prime Minister for 50 days, beating George Canning’s record of 118 days. Also a Conservative, he died of tuberculosis in 1827.

She remained PM until Rishi Sunak succeeded her:

Liz Truss’s final 24 hours: Suella Braverman’s resignation, question over Whips’ resignations (October 19)

Liz Truss’s final 24 hours: fallout over Braverman and Morton, no tears in exit speech (October 19, 20)

Rishi Sunak becomes Prime Minister: a momentous morning of historic significance (October 24, 25)

How Rishi Sunak won the Conservative Party leadership contest — part 1 (October 20, 21, 25)

How Rishi Sunak won the Conservative Party leadership contest — part 2 (October 21, 26, 27)

How Rishi Sunak won the Conservative Party leadership contest — part 3 (October 22-24, 27, 28)

On Thursday morning, The Telegraph posted a Planet Normal podcast in which Lord Frost said he could see Brexit being reversed:

In the wide-ranging discussion, Lord Frost also said that he could see a future where Brexit is reversed. 

“Brexit was about giving us the power to do things ourselves and to give responsibility back to British ministers, British governments. And they’ve shown that many of them are not up to the job in the last year or two.”

“I can easily see a situation where Keir Starmer gets in. We drift back closer into the single market and go back into the Customs Union. And then everyone says why are we in these things where we don’t get a say in them? Wouldn’t it be better to be a member? So I can easily see how it could happen. And the way you stop it happening is to prove, while we have the levers of power, that we can do things differently and better. And at the moment we’re not making a very good job of that, unfortunately.”

Little did Truss know that, the day before, she had stood at the despatch box for her last PMQs:

She resigned early on Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, she didn’t cry, unlike Theresa May, who broke down at the podium (Guido has the video):

Sterling began surging the second Truss finished her announcement:

In less than 24 hours, the Conservative Party website deleted her presence from their home page (Guido has the before and after screenshots):

It was a sad ending to a sad episode of British parliamentary history.

Next week, I will look at who, besides Truss herself, was also responsible for it.

Truss is currently spending time in her own constituency and has not yet appeared on the backbenches, an alien place for someone who had been a minister of state for most of her career.

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This post concludes the story of how Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister.

Those who missed them might find parts 1 and 2 of interest.

Before concluding, an important anniversary took place this week.

On October 26, 2012, UKIP MP Douglas Carswell introduced a private member’s bill, ‘The People’s EU Withdrawal Bill’.

The groundswell of support from Guido Fawkes’s readers helped bring it to the Commons:

Guido has the video and a brief comment (emphases his):

Today history was made as the first-ever crowd-sourced Bill was debated in Parliament. The majority of 5,000 readers of this website voted for Douglas Carswell to propose Britain to withdraw from the European Union, and today Carswell stood up in the House to argue the case for the People’s Bill. The debate can be watched at length here. 

Video via @liarpoliticians

Here is a short video of proceedings:

A few years later, then-Prime Minister David Cameron, frightened by the overwhelming support for UKIP in the European election, decided to give the British people a referendum. It ended up being the largest plebiscite in the history of the United Kingdom. On Thursday, June 23, 2016, in pouring rain, voters said they wanted the UK to leave the EU: 52% to 48%.

In current news, during Rishi Sunak’s first week as PM, as I wrote yesterday, questions were being asked in the Commons and the Lords about Suella Braverman’s reappointment as Home Secretary.

The Telegraph‘s Madeline Grant called Braverman ‘Houdini’ for not showing up for an Urgent Question in the Commons about the horrifying state of the Manston processing centre in Kent, which is turning from a short-stay to a longer-term residence for Channel migrants (emphases in purple mine):

At a second Home Office UQ, this time courtesy of Labour’s Diana Johnson, the Home Secretary was a no-show again …

In truth, there were unhappy campers on both sides of the House; enough to populate Butlins, if not quite Calais …

Deputising for Houdini was Robert Jenrick – a junior Home Office minister and close ally of the PM who, some say, was appointed to keep a watchful eye on Braverman and prevent her from doing anything too mad

Yet Jenrick’s arguments were more true-blue, or at least Red Wall. He had little sympathy with illegal migrants, and the diversion of resources away from their legal counterparts, and seized eagerly on Priti Patel’s pet phrase, “evil people-smuggling gangs”. Reinforcements soon began to arrive from the Tory backbenches. What gave Labour the right to complain, wondered Steve Double, the MP for St Austell, when they’d voted against Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill. Lee Anderson and Richard Graham warned of Britain’s imminent inundation by Albanian men.

Christopher Chope reminded the Commons that whatever the state of the Manston processing centre, conditions were a darn sight worse in the Calais Jungle. Labour MPs looked scandalised, but Jenrick agreed wholeheartedly.

When asked why he was deputising for Braverman:

Jenrick, in the spirit of Sunak, came back with an answer that was simultaneously boring and unimpeachable. “Because I’m the Minister of State for Immigration”

It is estimated that from 1% to 2% of Albanian men are in the UK. They have places to go to once they arrive. The Albanian drug trade is the latest development in our migration story.

The situation in Dover is intensifying. The Times reported the story of the week: ‘”Desperate” new arrivals drive Dover into taking up arms’. Sledgehammers, more like, as firearms are largely illegal here:

Sue Doyle, 59, was sitting in her living room sipping a cup of coffee on Sunday morning when a 16-year-old Albanian migrant got in through the back door, which she had left open for her dog.

“All of a sudden he was there standing in my front room,” she told The Times. “He didn’t seem very friendly. He kept saying: ‘no police, no police’.”

Doyle, a full-time carer for her mother, said she was made to her lock her dog in a bedroom and that the teenager then asked her to drive him to Manchester. When she refused he demanded her mobile phone and used it to arrange to be picked up by a contact.

Doyle managed to sneak out of the front door and alert a neighbour, who contacted the police and confronted the young migrant.

The neighbour, Louise Monger, 36, said she became more sympathetic when she realised his age and tried to assist him. Police arrived and he was detained before the driver arrived, she said …

The teenager who was arrested was said to be in tears as he was driven away in a police car …

A few doors down from Doyle, Kerry Jones, 45, a mother of a young autistic girl, said she now sleeps with a sledgehammer next to her bed after a migrant tried to enter her home through the back door in August

The residents complained that not enough was being done by the council, police and border force to deal with the problem. Many spoke of seeing migrants running through the streets and residential areas or “hiding in bushes” in local parks

When a Times reporter arrived at Dover Priory station yesterday a Syrian mother and her young child approached and asked for help getting to an “army base” where their money and belongings were.

The mother, Nur Taha, 27, said she and her son, Mohammad Salu, six, arrived in Dover ten days ago in an overcrowded dinghy that was rescued on the water and were separated from her partner Akram Salu, 49, who was detained by military police, and their possessions …

When a reporter called Kent Police to request assistance for the mother and son, he was told that no officers were available as they had more pressing priorities. The advice given was to let them roam in Dover and hope that they were safe.

In a statement on Doyle’s report, the force said it received a call at about 10.45am on Sunday that a man had entered “an insecure door at a property in Dover and was seeking the use of a phone”.

The force added: “He was initially arrested, then de-arrested at the scene once the circumstances had been established by speaking to both parties. The man was then detained on behalf of immigration officers.”

In Nur Taha’s case, it is understood she and Mohammad had been processed by Border Force officers

The council was approached for comment.

Mass migration started during Tony Blair’s government and has only become worse, as the backlog of cases is through the roof.

The Times reported:

Twenty years on, the Home Office again needs more information on those arriving, as well as stronger co-operation with France to stem the flow. Officials often have little information on claimants, whose lack of identification may be a deliberate ploy — case workers have little choice but to believe them: 75 per cent of asylum seekers were given the right to stay in the 12 months to March, the highest rate since 1990.

Meanwhile, claims are taking longer to assess, having climbed to an average of 480 days for an initial decision to be reached.

Some in the Home Office have suggested there is a deliberate policy of slowing down the processing of claims given the high rate of people granted asylum. A six-month target for assessing claims has been ditched and the rate of cases completed in that time has fallen from 80 per cent in 2015 to 17 per cent. But this looks set to change, given the soaring cost of housing those waiting for their claim to be assessed in hotels, which now stands at £6.8 million per day.

This month, the idea of erecting tent cities in London’s parks was mooted, something Paris has tried with shocking effect. Most Parisian women living near one of these tent cities can no longer go out at night. Drugs, violence and noise prevail once it turns dark.

The same Times article reported that London tent cities are unlikely to come to fruition:

The idea was raised by civil servants in meetings with leaders of London councils this month, sources said.

It was considered after efforts to persuade London boroughs and local authorities in other parts of the country to accommodate more asylum seekers failed. The Home Office had issued an emergency appeal to councils for more places earlier this year as officials struggled to cope with the growing numbers of migrants crossing the Channel.

Council leaders in the meeting dismissed the prospect of installing marquees in parks in the capital and instead urged the Home Office to lift the ban on asylum seekers being able to get a job …

The Home Office made clear last night that the plans to erect tents in London parks were no longer under consideration. It said: “It is categorically untrue to suggest that the Home Office is planning to erect tents to house asylum seekers in London parks.”

The idea arose during discussions on how to deal with overcrowding at the temporary asylum processing site at Manston Airport, which is only designed to hold Channel migrants for up to 24 hours.

It is unclear what Rishi Sunak has planned for Suella Braverman.

On the one hand, Sunak’s people say everything is in hand, and MI5 say they have no problem working with the Home Secretary, the Times revealed:

A former Conservative minister in the Home Office told The Times: “You can’t even have the vague notion that you might leak because then all the security services will clam up on you — which is not what you need.”

However, responding to claims that MI5 could withhold information from Braverman, a security source said: “This is completely untrue. The home secretary and MI5 have a strong and trusted working relationship. She will continue to receive regular intelligence briefings, as was the case when the home secretary was in post previously and with other home secretaries.”

Rishi Sunak’s spokesman insisted that Braverman had “strong relationships” with the security services and the prime minister’s full confidence.

Oh, dear: ‘the prime minister’s full confidence’. Those are dangerous words, dating back from the 1990s. That means a resignation or a sacking could be coming soon.

The Star wasted no time in putting ‘Leeky Sue’ on their Friday front page:

On the other hand, the Times said that Sunak’s allies are waiting for Braverman to go, possibly so that Jenrick can step in. He wouldn’t be very good, I don’t think, but that seems to be charactistic of Sunak’s government — business as usual, nothing gets done:

Sunak’s close ally and Braverman’s deputy in the Home Office, Robert Jenrick, responded to an urgent question on crossings yesterday in her place. The sole hope now, Sunak allies have whispered, is that Braverman makes a further error and goes for good, leaving Sunak and Jenrick to press on peacefully in her absence.

That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

The Guardian continued to cast shade on Braverman:

London’s Evening Standard, however, went with the story about Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi’s defence of the Home Secretary at the bottom of their front page:

One good thing that Rishi has done is to decline going to COP27:

A new poll shows that the Conservatives are doing better than Labour, but still have a huge hill to climb:

I disagree with Guido’s assessment here. The poll decline started with Boris and Partygate nearly a year ago:

That said, Guido rightly sees this as an uphill battle:

Add to that the impending storm of budget cuts, Rishi certainly faces an uphill battle.

The poll also strengthens Reform UK’s claims of a resurgence, with their support at 6% and growing representing a relatively strong showing. The Conservatives face challenges from all sides…

Finally, there’s the idiocy of America’s Trevor Noah calling Britain racist towards Rishi Sunak. I haven’t read one negative comment about his heritage from conservatives, ever. Labour — our equivalent of the Democrats — are the ones making the racist remarks.

The Telegraph reported:

Rishi Sunak does not believe Britain is a racist country, a Downing Street spokesman said, following claims by Trevor Noah that there was a “backlash” after he became the UK’s first British-Asian Prime Minister

“But you heard the words in the House [of Commons] on Wednesday with regard to the [appointment of the] Prime Minister,” the spokesman said. When asked whether Mr Sunak believes Britain is a racist country, the spokesman said: “No he doesn’t.”

His words were echoed by Sajid Javid, the former chancellor and health secretary, who said Noah was “detached from reality” when he claimed Mr Sunak’s appointment provoked a racist “backlash”.

… Tom Holland, a popular historian and podcaster, wrote:

—————————————————————————————————————–

Now back to the leadership contest, where we pick up on the events of Saturday, October 22, 2022.

Boris returns to the UK

The Sun‘s Harry Cole told TalkTV that Boris and Rishi could come up with a plan to save the country:

Sky News’s Mark Stone was tracking Boris’s progress back to the UK:

Sky News interviewed Chris Heaton-Harris MP, who said that Boris definitely had 100 backers (see video):

Guido was eager to confirm, as Boris’s numbers were far behind Rishi’s at that point:

Boris landed at Gatwick mid-morning:

Guido was hopeful for his prospects:

One German newspaper, however, was less than enthusiastic, asking, ‘Seriously?’:

Former Home Secretary and Boris loyalist Priti Patel declared her support:

However, the never-Boris MP, Sir Roger Gale, did not mince words in an interview with LBC:

Scottish Conservatives would agree. The Telegraph‘s Alan Cochrane wrote:

Just when an air of undisguised relief began to filter through the higher reaches of the Scottish Tories at the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss, along came Boris Johnson to dampen their ardour.

They may not have been the greatest fans of Ms Truss and were glad to see the back of her. But their view of Boris bordered on the certain belief that he was a major electoral liability north of the border. And as the news emerged that the former PM aims to stand again for the top job, one former senior minister commented: “It will destroy the Conservative Party if he does.”

At lunchtime, Harry Cole produced a poll for the Sun saying that Boris still topped the charts. That must have been in England, then:

However, Lord Frost thought that Rishi was the right man for the job:

One Twitter user reminded us that Boris plucked David GH Frost from obscurity and elevated him to the House of Lords:

However, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and ITV News’s Anushka Asthana spotted a trend. Former Boris supporters, such as Lord Frost, who also supported Liz Truss, now preferred Rishi Sunak:

That afternoon, Boris’s father Stanley appeared again on GB News, saying he would vote for his son if the contest went to Party members:

Just before 3 p.m., Boris backers told the BBC’s Chris Mason that the former PM had the numbers:

However, the Evening Standard‘s Nicholas Cecil sounded a note of caution — Boris’s MPs did not want their names made public:

A Mail+ report couldn’t shed much more light on the names, either:

On Saturday morning, former Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was backing Mr Johnson in the leadership race because he had a ‘proven track record’. Ms Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman are also in Mr Johnson’s camp, while former No10 chief of staff Steve Barclay and ex Brexit Minister Lord Frost have publicly backed rival Rishi Sunak.

Just before 3 p.m., another Twitter user provided this analysis, saying that Rishi had the momentum and numbers:

Just after 3 p.m., Guido’s spreadsheet showed that Rishi was on 120 MPs with Boris on 71:

Red Wall MP Lee Anderson declared his support for Boris after 3:30:

That was about it for Boris’s afternoon.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Guido described how he and his team were compiling their spreadsheet. The following points stood out:

Here is some insight into what has happened in the last few days: the Rishi campaign has decided in their wisdom to freeze Guido out – no briefing, no contact, effectively pretending we don’t exist as a fact of political life. Petulantly putting us in the penalty box for giving Rishi a hard time in the last leadership campaign. We started reporting and publicly recording the support of MPs for Boris on Thursday, and by yesterday evening the Rishi campaign was instructing their supporting MPs to contact us to confirm their support for him. As our records showed support for Rishi catching up with and then pulling ahead of Boris, his campaign reminded supporters to confirm their pledges to us. All can now see the relative strength of candidates’ support.

… MPs who have not pledged can be seen by all sides. They are either genuinely undecided – waiting to see which way the wind blows – or biding their time for Machiavellian reasons, or simply ransoming their vote for the highest bid or best favour. What MPs can’t do is double pledge any more. If they tell a campaign they are backing their candidate the campaign expects them to go public. If they don’t go public, they are suspect.

Yesterday the site was visited three quarters of a million times, such was the demand for data.* This kind of transparency is now a fact of political life, the game has changed. Changed for the better…

*Team Rishi’s strategy of ignoring the website read by so much of the membership doesn’t bode well for their success if the contest goes to the membership.

Penny who?

Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt’s leadership bid wasn’t the best.

Although this was strictly for MPs, The Guardian went to her Portsmouth North constituency to find out what the public thought:

Penny Mordaunt may have been the MP for Portsmouth North for 12 years, and could perhaps be the next prime minister, but some of her constituents were perplexed when hearing her name on Friday.

“Who’s she? I don’t know nothing about her,” said James McLeish, who added he would not recognise her if she passed him on the street. “Never seen her, don’t even know what she stands for.”

McLeish’s bemusement came hours before Mordaunt formally announced she was standing to replace Liz Truss – stealing a march on her presumed rivals Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson.

Speaking in Cosham High Street, which runs through the centre of a suburb to the north of the port city, McLeish, 82, had a much clearer view on Truss’s resignation after a disastrous 45 days in office.

The Telegraph‘s Tim Stanley gave us a tongue-in-cheek profile of the Leader of the House:

What about Penny Mordaunt, bringing up the rear? She was the first candidate to declare – and she surprised everyone last time by how far she went. The Tory grassroots appear besotted with this lady, thanks to her naval career and taste for innuendo; she exudes an impression of authority that was bolstered during the accession of Charles III when she managed to read aloud from an official document clearly and without error. That’s all it takes nowadays. If only she were in Parliament, Angela Rippon would be a shoe-in.

Ms Mordaunt has reportedly told Jeremy Hunt that if she wins, he can write economic policy. And Mr Hunt, no doubt, rang the Bank of England and said, “If Penny wins, you can write economic policy.” The Bank rang the IMF… and on it went all the way to Joe Biden, who put a call through to his wife, even though she was lying next to him, and said, “Honey, if Penny Farthing is made Queen of England, you can write economic policy.”

Stanley spoke with Conservative Party members:

What do the members think? I’ve put out feelers. They want Boris.

They know he’s not Jesus. He might have spent 40 days in the desert, but if the Devil tried to tempt him, he’d give in on every occasion. Yet they voted for Truss, the suits kicked her out – so now they want the good times back with BoJo. He likes pina coladas and dancing in the rain. And if they want him, and assuming he can find his passport – last seen in a swimming pool locker – he’ll be right with us.

Harry Cole said that Penny’s backers during the Liz Truss contest during the summer were now plumping for Boris or Rishi this time around:

Deal? No deal

Boris and Rishi met on Saturday evening. The meeting lasted three hours. The Times reported it took place at Boris’s office in Millbank Tower. I’ve been to Millbank Tower. It has lovely offices and a spectacular view of the Thames.

The Sun put the talks on its front page on Sunday, October 23:

The paper’s Harry Cole tweeted when the meeting ended, which was after 11 p.m.:

On Sunday, Cole said that Boris’s backers did not want to make themselves public until they were sure there was no deal:

There was no deal.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Suella Braverman was backing Rishi:

She wrote in the Telegraph: ‘I have backed Boris from the start. From running alongside him in London in 2012, to supporting him to be our leader in 2019 and willing him to succeed throughout the travails of this year. His resignation in July was a loss for our country.

‘But we are in dire straits now. We need unity, stability and efficiency. Rishi is the only candidate that fits the bill and I am proud to support him.’

The article gave us scant information on the meeting between Boris and Rishi:

Last night’s crunch summit between Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, which is believed to have ended shortly before 11.20pm, comes ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for Tory leadership hopefuls to secure the backing of 100 MPs.

The headline banners read:

  • Ex-Chancellor fomally confirms candidacy for Tory leadership after late-night talks with Boris Johnson
  • It was claimed this morning that no agreement was struck between the pair in their three-hour negotiations
  • Some had been hoping for a power-sharing pact between the pair in order to avoid a divisive battle

Sunday’s hope would not last

The day began well, but with Boris’s numbers stagnant, reality began to set in.

That morning, Redfield & Wilton Strategies released a positive poll for Boris, taken on October 20 and 21:

Guido showed us the Mail on Sunday poll, which also showed that Boris had the best chance of stemming a Labour majority were a general election to take place that day. Guido meant ‘Tory’ not ‘Toy’, by the way:

Liz Truss’s Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told Laura Kuenssberg that Boris had the numbers (video):

Rees-Mogg also defended Boris’s record (video):

Later that morning, Guido said that some MPs were sounding out their constituents:

Just before 2 p.m., Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted that he was backing Boris:

Meanwhile, Rishi already had 150 MPs signed up to vote for him, including names:

The Mail on Sunday reported that Boris allegedly contacted Penny Mordaunt to ask her to stand aside. The sign of a desperate man:

Penny Mordaunt, who officially declared her leadership bid on Friday, was claimed to have rebuffed Mr Johnson’s attempts to get her to drop out of the Tory leadership race in a phone call this afternoon.

He was reported to have told the ex-PM that, even if she did quit, most of her supporters would switch to Mr Sunak and not Mr Johnson. 

‘I’m in this to win it,’ the Leader of the House of Commons declared, despite signs she is struggling to win backers.

Boris bows out

Around 9 p.m., Boris announced that he was withdrawing from the contest. The time was not right for him to return, he said.

Afterwards, the Telegraph recapped the past 24 hours and said the meeting between him and Rishi on Saturday night lasted only one hour:

It was as he sat with Rishi Sunak, face-to-face for 60 minutes with no one else in the room, that Boris Johnson rolled the dice for the last time …

Barely a word had been passed between Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson since their relationship imploded in July.

Yet on Saturday night, the two biggest names in Tory politics agreed to down tools and meet, with the keys to Number 10 the prize on the table …

But the truth was that he believed a joint ticket between the two men, with him back as prime minister, was his route back to Downing Street.

The meeting was called at the behest of Mr Johnson, not Mr Sunak.

It was also, according to one figure who was in touch with one of the two candidates on Sunday, a surprisingly convivial affair. “It was perfectly pleasant,” said the source.

But Mr Johnson had been forced into a meeting with his old foe in an attempt to regain control of the corridors of power.

Above all, it was no Granita pact [one between Tony Blair as PM and Gordon Brown as Chancellor, done in a London restaurant of the same name] because of one simple reality – there was no deal. Mr Sunak did not agree to stand aside. Nor did Mr Johnson. They parted ways unresolved.

On Sunday morning, Boris rang his supporters:

His gamble to take control of Mr Sunak’s bigger list of backers had failed.

That much became clear at 8am on Sunday, when Mr Johnson gathered his supporters on a video call and informed them no agreement had been reached.

We found out more about his appeal to Penny to stand aside:

Ms Mordaunt gave him short shrift. The Commons Leader, who remembers being ejected from the Cabinet by Mr Johnson on his first day in office in July 2019, told him most of her MP supporters would prefer to back Mr Sunak – and that he should consider dropping out of the race and leave her to face him alone. Her offer was refused.

On Saturday, Boris’s aides even said he would keep Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor:

Searching, perhaps, to persuade MPs he had credibility as a “unity candidate”, Mr Johnson’s aides let it be known he would keep Jeremy Hunt in post as Chancellor if he won the contest.

Little did he know that at that moment, Mr Hunt was preparing to make his first public declaration of the leadership race since ruling himself out – by backing Mr Sunak in an article for The Telegraph.

King Charles would have said, ‘Dear, oh dear’.

On Sunday, around 9 p.m., Boris threw in the towel:

By 9pm, the answer was clear.

Writing to his supporters on a WhatsApp group, Mr Johnson himself conceded defeat – but claimed he had the numbers all along.

Telling friends he had been “overwhelmed” by support from MPs, he maintained that he was “uniquely placed to avert a general election”.

Stressing that he had cleared the “high hurdle” of 102 nominations including a proposer and a seconder, he said he was confident he could be “back in Downing Street on Friday”.

But it appeared the concern among Tory MPs about the return of their former leader had rattled Mr Johnson.

Confirming he had “reached out” to Mr Sunak and Ms Mordaunt in an attempt to strike a deal, his message concluded: “I am afraid that the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds.”

… As he told MPs on Sunday night: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid this is simply not the right time.”

One of Boris’s main supporters, Sir James Duddridge MP, was nonplussed:

An hour later, he changed his support from Boris to Rishi:

Jonathan Gullis, a Red Wall MP, didn’t wait that long:

Braverman pivotal to Rishi’s support

On Monday, October 24, the Times had two articles about the importance of Suella Braverman backing Rishi.

One said:

The European Research Group of Eurosceptic backbenchers [Brexit supporters], which in previous leadership contests has acted as a bloc, is increasingly fractured.

Suella Braverman, the former home secretary who was once one of Johnson’s most ardent supporters, came out for Sunak. The party, she said, could not afford to indulge in “parochial or nativist fantasies” given the “dire straits” it was in now. The world was “fundamentally different” from when Johnson was elected in 2019.

Braverman’s endorsement of Sunak surprised even some of her allies, with one speculating about whether she had been offered the chance to return as home secretary. “She wouldn’t have settled for much less,” said one.

Braverman’s support was not just a blow to Johnson, it also allowed Sunak to make the case to wavering MPs that he could command support across the party. As well as Braverman, Sunak won the backing of other former ERG stalwarts such as Steve Baker and Theresa Villiers. He has even persuaded MPs who had joined a “Back Boris 22” WhatsApp group to jump ship, including Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset.

It suggests that Sunak has made assurances to the ERG on policy and jobs, given that senior ERG figures were briefing on Friday that they would seek “guarantees” before endorsing candidates, which ranged from no concessions on the Northern Ireland protocol, reaffirming the manifesto commitment to reduce immigration and senior cabinet roles for their members.

Braverman suggested as much, saying in an article for The Telegraph website that the party needed to “move beyond Leaver or Remainer; One Nation or ERG; right of the party or left of the party; wets or Thatcherites,” adding: “One person can build that team: Rishi Sunak.”

The other said that Boris’s team had approached her for support on Saturday but was rebuffed:

Johnson’s team had made a “big pitch” to her yesterday in the hope that winning her over would persuade fellow right-wing MPs to back him. She is a former head of the European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs. It is a further sign that the ERG is split down the middle between Sunak and Johnson …

Her endorsement will deliver a big blow to Johnson’s efforts to attract the remaining MPs on the right of the party, as she is seen as one of their flag-bearers and rising stars.

She is the latest figure on the right to endorse Sunak following Kemi Badenoch, the trade secretary, and Lord Frost.

Braverman also signalled that Sunak had agreed to continue with reforms she had begun working on during her short spell as home secretary, including a new law to prevent the European Convention on Human Rights allowing migrants and criminals to avoid deportation. It also suggests that Sunak has agreed to press ahead with the government’s controversial Rwanda policy.

I hope that all works out for her.

Unfortunately for James Duddridge, the Boris loyalist, even though he voted for Rishi, he was sacked as Trade minister on Wednesday:

Jacob Rees-Mogg also got the sack this week and has returned to the backbenches.

Rishi’s ‘coronation’

On Monday morning, October 24, the outspoken Lee Anderson refused to back Rishi, swapping his vote from Boris to Penny. Interesting, to say the least:

Just before 1 p.m., Rishi had over 200 backers, double of what he needed:

At 2 p.m., the all-powerful 1922 Committee assembled at Conservative Party headquarters (CCHQ) to announce the results.

They had to meet at CCHQ, because while Rishi was the new Party leader, he was not yet Prime Minister and would not be able to enter No. 10 until he met with the King, who would grant him permission to form a government. The monarch returned to London on Tuesday, at which time Rishi’s premiership was formalised.

According to the 1922 Committee, Boris had real numbers behind him — and had passed the threshold:

Guido reported:

For the historical record Nigel Adams says he met this morning with Bob Blackman, Joint Secretary of the 1922 Committee.

He has independently verified the nomination paperwork and confirmed to me that Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP was above the threshold required to stand for the Conservative Party leadership in this leadership election. Therefore Mr Johnson could have proceeded to the ballot had he chosen to do so.

The nominations process is confidential and it is up to individual MPs whether they wish to publicly announce who they back in leadership elections – Bob Blackman is verifying nominations today for the remaining candidates in this leadership election. Those still suffering from Boris Derangement Syndrome may need to seek help…

At the very last minute, Penny Mordaunt withdrew from the contest.

That meant Rishi had his ‘coronation’ as the only candidate left.

As such, the vote did not need to go to the Party members.

Conservative MPs were happy as Larry as they rejoiced that they finally got their man in office at last.

That evening, GB News reported that the Party’s phone lines and website could not handle the amount of calls and clicks from members trying to cancel their membership.

They weren’t angry at Rishi as much as they were the MPs who denied them a say.

End of series

Before going into Rishi’s win in last weekend’s leadership contest, a few items of current news follow.

Wednesday, October 26 saw Rishi at the despatch box for PMQs, which he handled well. Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer was still going around in circles with his six questions, achieving nothing, as usual.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s security breach dominated PMQs and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper asked an Urgent Question about it.

This morning’s Telegraph editorial said (purple emphases mine):

There is something about Mrs Braverman that seems to drive the Left borderline hysterical. Her robust views on issues such as controlling the borders and tackling crime put her in the mainstream of public opinion. Somehow that is enough to earn her the sobriquet “hard-Right” among her Leftist critics.

In the Commons, Mr Sunak defended Mrs Braverman’s return to the Home Office, saying that she had made an error of judgment but that she had recognised that and accepted her mistake. Her resignation last week also took place amid a row within government over immigration levels: Mrs Braverman is a firm advocate of cutting numbers.

Many Conservative voters will be reassured that she is back in office. Mrs Braverman has the right political instincts, taking a hard line for instance on the need to clamp down on disruptive climate protesters. In her previous roles, she has shown that she has the ability to master the details of complex policy areas, including on sensitive matters such as transgender rights. Now, she should be given the time and space to get on with the job.

A retired Squadron Leader wrote the Telegraph to say:

SIR – Congratulations to the new Prime Minister and to Suella Braverman on her return as the Home Secretary.

The situation in the English Channel, with migrants entering Britain with impunity and without permission, at a cost of millions of pounds a day for hotel accommodation alone, cannot go on.

In 2021, 28,526 migrants landed in Britain without permission. This year, more than 38,000 migrants have arrived so far, with a projection of up to 50,000 by the new year.

Mrs Braverman would seem to have the answers to this problem. One can only hope that her return to the Home Office will make a difference, and quickly.

Another issue Braverman will have to deal with are alleged Chinese ‘police stations’ in two Glasgow restaurants.

Today — Thursday — the Times reported:

Ministers have been called on to intervene after China was accused of operating a “shadowy and chilling” secret police hub in the heart of Glasgow.

A report compiled by a human rights organisation claims that the Chinese government is operating a global network of undeclared “police stations”, which are being used to intimidate and silence dissidents.

The Home Office said the claims were “very concerning” and would be taken “extremely seriously”. A spokesman said: “Any foreign country operating on UK soil must abide by UK law. The protection of people in the UK is of the utmost importance and any attempt to illegally repatriate any individual will not be tolerated.”

Safeguard Defenders, a Madrid-based civil liberties group, alleges one of the outposts is running from 417 Sauchiehall Street in central Glasgow, alongside two others in London. The address houses the premises of Loon Fung, one of the city’s oldest and best-known Chinese restaurants …

A spokesman for Safeguard Defenders:

claimed the Scottish Fujian Chamber of Commerce, registered at the premises of Sichuan House, another Chinese restaurant based on Sauchiehall Street, also had links to the Chinese state.

The Times attempted to confirm the allegations:

The Chinese consulate in Edinburgh did not respond to a request for comment …

Loon Fung has strongly denied any involvement. “There’s no secret police here,” a spokesman said. Sichuan House did not respond to a request to comment. A man who answered a mobile number published online as being the contact for the Scottish Fujian Chamber of Commerce hung up when The Times introduced itself.

Returning to Braverman, on Wednesday night, Sir Jake Berry MP, the short-lived chairman of the Conservative Party under Liz Truss, gave an interview on TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored, on which Nadine Dorries MP was a guest host, Morgan being on holiday.

The Times reported what Berry said, in part:

From my own knowledge, there were multiple breaches of the ministerial code …

That seems a really serious breach. The cabinet secretary had his say at the time. I doubt he’s changed his mind in the last six days but that’s a matter for the prime minister.

Also:

Asked whether Braverman had rapidly owned up to the mistake as she claimed, Berry replied: “I wasn’t in the meeting but as I understand it the evidence was put to her and she accepted the evidence rather than the other way around” …

Berry’s comments are likely to prompt further questions about the circumstances of Braverman’s re-appointment as Sunak completes a reshuffle of the government’s junior ranks.

Hmm. Interesting.

Berry’s interview was up for discussion this morning in the House of Lords. Labour peer Baroness Smith of Basildon, leader of the Opposition, asked an Urgent Question about it. Baroness Neville-Rolfe, responding for the Government, gave a brief statement in support of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, which was met with audible groans from many of the peers. Several of them, including a Lord Spiritual (Anglican bishop), asked questions for several minutes.

Labour will continue to press this issue, it seems.

Guido Fawkes caught up with Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday:

Guido wrote (emphases his):

Finding himself behind Keir Starmer in a coffee-queue this afternoon, Guido took the opportunity to ask the Leader of the Opposition about his future attack lines on the Government. The case of Suella Braverman, the Labour leader said, “wasn’t going away.”

It was a relatively inconspicuous item in his PMQs: “Have officials raised concerns about his decision to appoint her?” It caused a frisson among those who know how important process is, and how deadly the advice given by officials can be …

Obviously no PM is going to answer such questions, nor will he willingly surrender written advice given in ministerial confidence. However, there is a route to get it. By a Humble Address (a procedural device resurrected from ancient obscurity by the previous Speaker, John Bercow), documents of all sorts, including electronic, can be demanded by an Opposition Motion.

Labour has had next week’s Opposition Day nicked by the SNP. But the issue will probably fructify rather than decay over time. It may be a little early in the new administration for 35 Tories to defy the Whip and vote for the  documents to be revealed – but if recent history is anything to go by …

Questions about Braverman continued in the House of Commons on Thursday during Cabinet Office Questions and, later, Business Questions to Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt.

A Telegraph article by Gordon Rayner said that recent Home Secretaries ended up doomed from the start:

Almost as soon as Rishi Sunak reappointed Mrs Braverman as Home Secretary, the civil service was letting it be known that there were “concerns” about whether she could be trusted with sensitive information. Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, was “livid” about her appointment, sources said.

If the ultimate goal of the poisonous briefings by civil servants was to suggest the department cannot function with Mrs Braverman in charge, it will be a familiar scenario to previous holders of the post.

Priti Patel only just survived a concerted campaign to force her out by civil servants who accused her of bullying. Amber Rudd lasted two years before she was forced to resign for misleading a Commons committee, having been wrongly briefed by her department on deportation targets. As far back as 2006 Labour’s John Reid declared the department “not fit for purpose”.

In 2006, Labour was in power, by the way.

Gordon Rayner rightly includes Braverman’s allies in his analysis:

Allies of Mrs Braverman say that her enemies in the Home Office, and on the Left, have used a technical breach of the ministerial code as a convenient excuse to attack a woman with whom their true battle lies over immigration.

Conservative Party members are likely to support Braverman:

As the current “queen of the Right” in the Government, every carping comment from a Labour MP or BBC commentator simply reinforces her popularity with Conservative Party members and a significant chunk of MPs.

Rishi Sunak reinstated her at the Home Office because he knows that to stand any chance of uniting his party, he needs a figurehead of the Right in a senior position, and in Mrs Braverman he has a former chairman of the European Research Group of Right-wing Eurosceptic Tories.

It is significant that Braverman backed Rishi last weekend:

If, as has been suggested, a return to the Home Office was the price she demanded for backing his leadership bid (and effectively killing off Boris Johnson’s attempted resurrection) it simply proves the clout she now has within the Party.

Other news from Wednesday included a confirmed ban on fracking, overturning Liz Truss’s decision to allow fracking in communities that overwhelmingly allow it.

——————————————————————————————————————

Now back to the leadership contest.

In the early hours of Friday, October 21, Boris Johnson was leading Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt:

I left off yesterday with Stanley Johnson saying that morning that his son Boris was ‘on a plane’.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss made a brief return to Downing Street, probably to collect something. The Guardian‘s photos show her in sportswear, a heretofore unseen Liz.

‘Bring Back Boris’

Express readers opened their Friday paper to find an article by one of Boris’s main backers, Sir James Duddridge MP, a champion of the Bring Back Boris, or BBB, campaign:

I was his Parliamentary Private Secretary and stayed with him right until the end. It was a mistake to force him out but now is the time to bring him back.

He is the only one who can unite the party after the turbulent last few weeks and I trust him to right the ship …

He always remained hugely popular with the party’s grassroots and with large parts of the country.

There will always be socialists and angry Twitter mobs who rail against him but he is an election winner, twice in London as well as nationally.

My constituents regularly tell me they want Boris back and he still has a mandate from the country …

He has the star quality and inspirational leadership the country needs during the challenging months ahead.

It’s time to Bring Back Boris.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Truss’s Business Secretary, declared his support for the former Prime Minister — ‘Boris or Bust’:

Pollster Matt Goodwin pointed out that while Rishi is more popular overall with British voters, Boris still leads those who voted in the 2019 election:

The video from 2012 showing Boris, who was then Mayor of London and promoting the Olympics that year, went viral:

https://image.vuukle.com/71283898-5747-4196-bef2-20ded1203630-45d7723c-546c-489e-907d-f89f9f0ab2ed

However, The Sun‘s Harry Cole reminded everyone that Boris still had the upcoming Privileges Committee investigation to deal with. If it goes badly, he might have to resign as an MP:

Conservative MPs could schedule a motion to cancel the investigation. That would have to be approved by the Commons, but as the Conservatives have a current majority of 71, it could still be overturned. This Sun reporter thinks it is unlikely, however:

Truss’s Deputy Chief Whip Craig Whittaker requested that his name be removed from Guido’s list of Boris supporters. His post requires impartiality:

Emily Maitlis, formerly of the BBC, reacted characteristically to news that Boris was running in the leadership contest:

Guido has the audio and reported:

Emily Maitlis meanwhile learnt the Boris news live on her News Agents podcast. You’ll never guess her reaction…

Shouldn’t hurt Boris’s chances…

Rishi takes the lead

Maitlis needn’t have worried.

By 11 a.m. on Friday, Rishi had just edged past Boris:

A half hour later, Rishi’s momentum was beginning to build:

Boris backers hadn’t lost hope, however. The fact that Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, supported him was an added fillip:

That afternoon, Opinium posted their snap poll on who the public supported. Rishi was the clear winner. Even Penny beat Boris:

Boris gained support from more of the Red Wall. Teesside mayor Ben Houchen is a Party member and not an MP. Simon Clarke was Truss’s Levelling Up Secretary:

Guido excerpted their letter to the Telegraph

Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party. 

He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be.  

People on Teesside love Boris because he recognised that while talent is evenly distributed across the country, opportunity is not. Boris gave us that opportunity. 

Teesside has had difficult times and is now levelling up because of Boris. We know that for us, like Boris, the comeback will be greater than the setback.

… adding:

Houchen is a real loss for Rishi…

By 3:45, Rishi was well on his way to 100 backers. Boris was now lagging behind, and Penny was stuck:

In the early evening, an MP from the 2019 intake, Antony Higginbotham, representing the traditionally Labour constituency of Burnley, came out for Boris:

Two hours later, veteran MP Bill Cash also announced his support for Boris:

It seemed that most Boris backers were traditional Conservatives and Red Wall MPs.

Guido pointed out the Red Wall loyalty:

By contrast, Matt Hancock felt the need to produce a lengthy statement explaining why he was supporting Rishi:

Saturday’s papers

Saturday’s papers were a mixed bag.

Not surprisingly, the Financial Times said that investors were alarmed at the prospect of Boris’s return:

The Telegraph reported that Rishi was expected to pass the threshold of 100 MPs:

The Star came up with an aubergine motif for Boris and couldn’t resist featuring Lettuce Liz again:

Their Thought for the Day was:

Haven’t we all suffered enough?

The lead paragraph reads:

Just when you thought all salad-based puns had been exhausted, posh aubergine Bozo Johnson has emerged as one of the favourites to replace Lettuce Liz as PM.

Rumours began circulating about joint talks between Rishi and Boris:

Two papers played to Boris supporters — the Express

… and the Sun:

The paper’s veteran Trevor Kavanagh explored both sides of the Boris equation in ‘Boris Johnson is a political Humpty Dumpty with a giant ego who had such a great fall — but if he runs for PM, he’ll win’:

Boris Johnson, the political Joker who makes half the nation smile while the rest are spitting chips, is gearing up for another pitch at the premiership.

He needs 100 MPs’ votes and may well get more.

If he runs, he wins — that’s my prediction for what it’s worth in this tumultuous here-today, gone-tomorrow blur of Tory leaders, challengers and assassins.

And even if he doesn’t win, what a pleasure to hear the screams of fury from Labour, Lib Dems and Scot Nats — amplified through the impartial BBC’s 100-decibel speakers

These puce-faced wets don’t seem to realise they are fuelling the pro-Boris momentum which might propel him back into Downing Street and even produce another sensational election win.

Happily, their moans are drowned out by cheers from Red Wall Tory MPs who credit Boris with winning their seats in Parliament.

They want Boris back and so do millions of voters across the land.

It may be deeply irresponsible to say so, but this is diamond-studded 24-carat political entertainment and I for one am enjoying the ride.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not ­watching BoJo: The Movie through rose-coloured glasses, or even suggesting that it makes sense.

Boris Johnson must take much of the blame for the catastrophic mess the country is in, politically and economically.

But he won his 2019 80-seat landslide majority fair and square.

It was an almost entirely personal achievement beyond the reach of any other politician.

He used that majority to achieve great things, ramming Brexit through Parliament, the Covid vaccination triumph and leading global support for Ukraine.

He also blew it as the “Greased Piglet” PM who believes rules are for little people, not him …

It was such casual conduct that handed Labour grounds for a kangaroo court trial for lying to Parliament — a hurdle still to be cleared.

But for such careless affronts to good governance, Boris Johnson would still be Prime Minister right now.

The Pound would be steady, mortgages manageable, inflation past its peak.

We would not have seen the eye- popping political convulsions which turned Britain into a global laughing stock.

The soap opera is not over yet.

Whoever wins next week must choose a new Cabinet and pick a way through the ruins.

If it is Boris, it should at least end the clamour — choreographed yesterday across all BBC networks — for a snap General Election.

Boris won’t have to face the tricky ­question: “Who Voted for You?” …

Without Boris, the Conservative Party faces certain defeat by 2025.

Boris has the magical Heineken ability to reach voters other politicians cannot reach.

It’s a gamble, a glitterball Who Dares Wins test of luck and daring.

Even Netflix couldn’t make it up.

But for the Tories, it is the only game in town.

For the next 24 hours I had hope.

More on the contest will follow tomorrow.

Before analysing the latest Conservative Party leadership contest last weekend, I am pleased to report that …

Rishi Sunak reappointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary.

Braverman resumed work late in the afternoon on Tuesday, October 25, on Rishi’s first day as Prime Minister.

More about Braverman follows later in this series.

1922 Committee changes rules

On Thursday, October 20, no sooner had Liz Truss resigned as Party leader than Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee representing Conservative backbenchers and Jake Berry MP, the then-chairman of the Conservative Party, devised a rule change for the election of the next leader.

Late that afternoon, The Sun‘s Harry Cole tweeted:

NEW: Brady and Berry about to announce 100 threshold for nominations… means maximum of 3 candidates will go to vote of MPs. That will happen Monday then likely online voting by membership – with result announced next Friday.

Guido Fawkes had more. Jake Berry said there would be a Party members vote only if there were two final candidates:

Brady is pictured on the left of this photo, with Berry on the right:

Guido’s post announced the timeline (emphases his):

If there’s one candidate, the UK will get its new PM on Monday, if two we’ll know on Friday.

There is one interesting aspect to those rules. They were designed to eliminate Boris Johnson, who had been in Colorado giving a speech and, at the time the contest was announced, was enjoying a holiday in the Dominican Republic.

The chairman — so far, it has always been a man — of the 1922 Committee is one of the most powerful men in the UK.

The committee forced out the formidable Margaret Thatcher in 1990 and made her cry. She called them ‘the men in the grey suits’.

When Conservative MPs want a new Party leader, they write to the chairman of the Committee. The chairman may choose to let the Party leader know that opposition is gathering against him or her.

One thing that the chairman never reveals, however, is the number of no-confidence letters he has received.

During Liz Truss’s last week in office, she and Sir Graham Brady spoke every day.

She knew the men in the grey suits were on their way when she sacked Kwasi Kwarteng the week before:

Shortly before her resignation last Thursday, Harry Cole wondered if their meeting that day would be their last. He had heard that Truss asked to see Brady, rather than the other way around:

Perhaps Truss had seen the column that her fellow Conservative Robert Largan (High Peak) had written for the Glossop Chronicle on Tuesday, October 18: ‘Warning of the danger of dumpster fires’. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

I’ve spent a lot of my time issuing warnings this year.

Back in January, I first highlighted the danger of rising energy bills …

In July, I started warning about the precarious economic situation and the Government’s limited fiscal room for manoeuvre, urging politicians to resist the temptation of unfunded tax cuts or unfunded spending commitments.

The subject of this week’s column, however, concerns warning about another important and oft overlooked phenomenon: dumpster fires.

Fire and rescue services attend around 300 significant fires at waste sites each year. The two most common causes of these fires are spontaneous combustion and arson.

Without action, dumpster fires can rage on for long periods of time, spreading quickly and causing major structural damage.

For some, watching these fires rage elicits a grim fascination and the chance to speculate about just how long it will continue to burn.

Extinguishing a dumpster fire is risky business and likely to be messy …

I am deeply committed to protecting our environment and our beautiful country. I firmly believe that we need to tackle dumpster fires when they occur, regardless of how messy or unappealing this may be.

Indeed, the act of extinguishing the flames could well be the end of the skip they originated in. But urgent action is necessary nevertheless.

Guido Fawkes posted a link to the article that day, interpreting it as a dog whistle about Liz Truss:

Guido’s post read:

Chapeau to Red Wall Tory MP Robert Largan who has used a local campaign to warn about the state of the Tory party. His weekly column focuses on the clear and present danger of dumpster fires. Beyond the otherwise ironic headline, it reads like a normal campaigning piece from a constituency MP. Up until the final sentence:

Indeed, the act of extinguishing the flames could well be the end of the skip they originated in. But urgent action is necessary nevertheless.

Quite…

The Telegraph also picked up on Largan’s article on Wednesday, October 19:

He wrote: “The longer the fire is left to rage, the greater the danger to the integrity of the skip, as the metal starts to warp and twist out of shape, beyond all recognition, eventually becoming completely unusable.”

The piece was viewed in Westminster as a not-very-subtle shot across the bows of the Government.

His Tory MP colleague, William Wragg, has now said he agrees with Mr Largan’s assessment of the situation.

Wragg is a vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Last Thursday morning, hours before Truss resigned, The Times reported:

Liz Truss’s government is teetering on the brink after a day of chaos for the Tory party.

Members of the 1922 Committee, in charge of running Conservative Party leadership contests, are set to meet later today to discuss the escalating crisis.

Speculation is growing that Sir Graham Brady, the committee’s chairman, has already received more than 54 letters calling for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister — the threshold for triggering one if Truss was not in the 12 months’ grace period for new leaders.

Last night senior Conservative MPs warned that Truss’s departure may be accelerated. “We could be talking days, not weeks,” they added.

It was early that afternoon:

Polls slipping since November

The Conservative Party’s slide in the polls began when Boris Johnson’s involvement in Partygate was revealed late in November 2021.

Labour’s rise accelerated during the summer. On Friday, October 21, their lead increased to a historic 35 points in this People Polling poll commissioned by GB News, ‘the People’s Channel’:

Guido’s post includes two other polls:

Polling since Liz Truss’s resignation paints one of the bleakest pictures ever for the party. People Polling puts Labour on 53%, with the Conservatives on a miserable 14%. The Liberal Democrats are just 3 points behind. Pollster Matt Goodwin points out it is the lowest level of support for the Tories in British polling history.  He adds the party is “on life support”.

This isn’t the only psephological headache for the Conservatives. A poll from Omnisis, conducted after the resignation, gives Labour a stonking 57% with the Conservatives on 22%. The 35-point lead is an increase of 14 on Omnisis’ previous poll.

Meanwhile, according to YouGov’s Daily Question, 63% of the public, and 38% of Conservative voters, want a general election.

Call for Boris

Most MPs, regardless of party, think that their voters are stupid.

However, it was hard for voters to dismiss what had happened in one week.

On October 19, Toby Young, founder of the Daily Sceptic, wrote ‘Are We Witnessing a Globalist Coup?’:

As listeners to my London Calling podcast will know, I’m deeply sceptical about conspiracy theories

But my scepticism has been sorely tested by the events of the last few days. The reaction of the bond markets and the currency markets to the mini-budget, the U-turn over cutting the top rate of tax, Kwasi Kwarteng’s defenestration, his replacement by arch-Remainer and Zero Covid zealot Jeremy Hunt and now the sudden departure of sound-as-a-pound Suella Braverman and the elevation of Grant Shapps … it all seems like a globalist coup. Indeed, Suella used the word ’coup’ to describe the attempts to discredit the mini-budget at the Conservative Party Conference.

Liz Truss, when she gave her press conference on the steps of Downing Street last Friday, looked as though someone had kidnapped her children and she was reciting from a script the kidnapper had handed her. And now Suella has gone too. It seems every genuinely conservative, pro-Brexit member of the Government is being picked off, one by one. Suella might have actually done something about the boats crossing the channel. She’d already spoken up about the police acting like the paramilitary wing of the Guardian and she is a steadfast Brexiteer who did some work on dismantling the Northern Irish Protocol as Attorney General. Was she really forced out because of what looked like a very minor security breach? Or have her children been kidnapped, too?

it’s getting increasingly hard to persuade the conspiracy theorists they’re wrong.

That morning, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had the unenviable task of doing the morning news round. The Telegraph summarised what he said:

James Cleverly has suggested the same Tory MPs who ousted Boris Johnson are now working to do the same to Liz Truss. 

The Foreign Secretary said it is “many of the same people” who “defenestrated Boris” who are now criticising the new Prime Minister.

Mr Cleverly argued that none of the challenges facing the UK would be solved by “removing another prime minister” as he said the Government must focus on delivery if it wants to reverse dire opinion polls.

Told that a poll of Tory members found 55 per cent want Ms Truss to resign, Mr Cleverly said: “We have gone through quite recently a situation where lots of people were saying Boris has got to resign and at the time I said okay, you might not be happy, but what is your plan for what happens next?

“For those people who defenestrated Boris, they didn’t have a plan for what’s happening next, they are now criticising the new Prime Minister, many of the same people, and I just say again, look, what we need at this point is we need to get focused on delivery, delivering those minimum service agreements so communities can get to work, delivering the infrastructure so that we can grow the economy, deliver calm, confidence to the markets. I don’t think any of those things would be served by removing another prime minister.”

The next day, Thursday, Toby Young wrote, ‘It’s Got to be Boris’:

I can see a lot of readers balking at that headline

But my gut says that Rishi would be worse

It’s true that the Tory Party will look absurd if it makes Boris leader again six weeks after defenestrating him. But it’s going to look absurd whatever it does. Would it be any less ridiculous to appoint a third leader in as many years?

Suppose you think Rishi would be preferable to Boris. Maybe so, but would Keir Starmer be preferable to Boris? On lockdowns, vaccine passports and Net Zero he’s even more of a zealot than BoJo, and with Rishi at the helm Labour’s victory at the next General Election is almost inevitable.

Finally, just think of how angry all the Boris-haters will be. As I’ve written about before, the reason Boris is so unpopular with the Establishment – the reason he brings certain members of the ruling class out in hives – is because he’s the embodiment of Merrie England. They detest his devil-may-care attitude, his disregard for conventional morality, the fact that he has three wives and god knows how many children. He’s Sid James and Falstaff and Benny Hill rolled into one. He’s a saucy seaside postcard come to life … It would be like the restoration of Charles II, except the Interregnum will only have lasted six weeks.

I’m sure many people are unconvinced and Boris hasn’t even said he’s going to run yet. But I expect he will and if he does I’ll be holding my nose and backing him.

That afternoon, Guido tweeted a YouGov poll from that week showing most Conservative Party members thought that Boris should be the next leader:

Guido added that, if Boris became leader again, Labour would have no grounds on which to demand a general election:

A short time later, Guido heard Boris was returning to the UK:

The news also circulated from other sources.

At 4 p.m., Boris loyalist and Red Wall MP Marco Longhi tweeted, showing the Black Country flag from his part of the Midlands:

Fifteen minutes later, The Telegraph‘s Ben Riley-Smith tweeted the names of Longhi and seven other loyal MPs who were backing Boris, who, it should be noted, had not officially declared:

Shortly afterwards, one of them, Brendan Clarke-Smith, made an articulate case as to why Boris should be the next leader. Guido has the video:

Guido and his team started a new leadership contest spreadsheet, which the BBC referenced that evening. The Boris backers had a clear lead, with Penny Mordaunt in third:

Some Boris backers also came from the 1922 Committee, rather surprisingly. That said, many of the MPs wished to remain anonymous:

An Opinium poll showed that Boris in charge would save the most Conservative seats were a general election held. It is worth noting that, in this contest, only Rishi, Penny and Boris were in the running. Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch were not:

Conservative Party members began contacting their MPs with ‘strongly worded’ pro-Boris emails:

Millions of British voters rejoiced at the prospect of Boris’s return:

The Sun put the news on Friday’s front page:

The Telegraph reported it, too:

The BBC’s Newsnight referenced Guido’s spreadsheet in their coverage that night:

The morning of Friday, October 21, a fishmonger in Birmingham told a BBC Breakfast reporter that Boris needed to succeed Liz Truss. Look at her facial expression:

Guido mentioned the interview as well as another pro-Boris one from the evening before, in Rushcliffe, also on the BBC:

Stanley Johnson told Good Morning Britain that he thought his son was on a plane:

The enthusiasm for Boris was palpable.

Friday saw more developments, which I will go into tomorrow.

This has not been the best Conservative Party Conference, and here’s why:

1/ Bombastic Boris is no longer Prime Minister;

2/ Liz Truss is still finding her feet as his successor;

3/ A train strike is taking place on the final day, so a lot of people left before Liz spoke on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, October 5, GB News’s Darren McCaffrey, a veteran of many party conferences, said that the mood in Birmingham was very low this year, as if, after 12 years, the Conservatives think that their time in Government could be up.

It doesn’t help that Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has been spreading lies about Kwasi Kwarteng’s fiscal event, either:

Meanwhile, the people in Boris Johnson’s constituency of Uxbridge in west London miss him dearly:

Anyone who missed the controversies of the Conservative Party Conference can catch up here and here.

On Tuesday night, former Conservative adviser Amanda Platell, who writes for the Daily Mail, said she is praying that Liz Truss can actually govern without opposition from her own MPs. Platell described Michael Gove as ‘a jackal’. Platell added that the Leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt, wasn’t a very good employee when she worked for her several years ago:

After Amanda Platell spoke in that clip, it was time for Stanley Johnson, Boris’s father, to give his impressions of this year’s conference.

He said that he must have been to a different one, because everyone he saw was upbeat and the conference hall was full for Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s speech. Stanley Johnson blames the negativity on an ongoing media narrative:

I didn’t see this gloom and doom meeting at all. 

When Dan Wootton asked Stanley about Michael Gove, the former Prime Minister’s father replied:

I’m not going to talk about wildlife of any kind … I’m going to sing Michael Gove’s praises because he has been a really good Secretary of State for the Environment.

Wootton countered:

He stabbed your son in the back.

Stanley said:

I’m not going to talk about it … I’m speaking as an environmentalist.

In another part of the show, Stanley said that he is ‘100% certain’ that Boris will not be back as Conservative Party leader, i.e. Prime Minister.

Robert Buckland’s advice to rebels: ‘Shut up’

On Tuesday afternoon while listening to GB News, one of the presenters said that the Secretary of State for Wales, the mild mannered Robert Buckland, told Michael Gove to ‘shut up’.

Hoping it was true, I searched Wednesday’s headlines but saw only that Buckland had issued his advice indirectly, via Global Radio’s News Agents podcast, featuring ex-BBC broadcasters Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall.

Buckland was mild mannered throughout:

The i paper confirms that no direct confrontation took place:

Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland appealed to recently sacked ministers to “shut up” but indicated he wants to see benefits rise in line with inflation, telling Times Radio he believes in supporting “those who genuinely cannot share … In growth and prosperity”.

One can only hope that Gove and his Sunak-backing allies got the message.

On Tuesday night, The Telegraph urged MPs to rally behind their new Prime Minister: ‘Tories owe Liz Truss their full support’ (emphases in purple mine):

Ms Truss has an ambitious set of policies that she set out in the leadership campaign, yet there is now a danger that she will be thwarted at every turn by a fresh coalition of opponents in her own party.

MPs should remember that the Prime Minister won fairly and squarely under the rules after they removed a leader who had delivered an 80-seat majority just three years ago. She did not engineer a coup and, indeed, stayed loyal to Boris Johnson until the end.

Senior backbenchers and former ministers such as Michael Gove and Grant Shapps, who have been in the vanguard of recent criticism, should consider the damage they are doing to the party’s re-election prospects. The only beneficiaries are their political opponents.

Conservative values championing a small state, low taxes and deregulation are being replaced by social democratic nostrums that brook no spending cuts and take the same attitude to wealth creators as the Left. The pandemic lockdowns did not help matters by fostering a widespread sense that the state will always step in to help in difficult times, as it has done again with energy bills.

As we have argued consistently, the UK needs a growth strategy, and Ms Truss is at least providing one. The alternative is to manage the nation’s decline into a high-tax, low-productivity economy. She needs the full support of the parliamentary party in her endeavour, starting now.

Left-wing lies persist over economic measures

Last week, the Bank of England had to take action to counter what appeared to be an immediate effect of the Chancellor’s fiscal event of Friday, September 23.

However, Guido Fawkes cited a report from the Financial Times which said that the economic hiccup originated with the pensions industry.

Note the exposed deception in this Twitter thread:

Yes, I can well imagine that it was Mark Carney’s fault. He was Andrew Bailey’s predecessor at the Bank of England. Both are worthless, yet the media deifies Carney as some sort of miracle worker.

The left-wing narrative, spun by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and the media, persists that the taxpayer is being hung out to dry.

Guido wants to correct that narrative, noting that the BBC’s Nick Robinson has already apologised for getting it wrong:

Guido’s post from Tuesday, October 4, — which includes audio — says (emphases his):

Since the Bank of England announced market operations to purchase gilts last Wednesday, Westminster politicos have been struggling to get their heads round the intricacies of gilt markets. It therefore comes as no surprise to Guido that Nick Robinson was forced into a correction today, after incorrectly repeating the widely tweeted claim that the Bank of England has spent “£65 billion to prop up the markets”

The claim is somewhat misleading. The Bank of England pledged to buy gilts to the tune of a maximum of £5 billion a day, over two weeks, to assure markets. This means the maximum possible spend was £65 billion, though the actual number will be far smaller. In reality the bank has purchased around £3.66 billion so far, with yesterday’s purchases coming in at just £22 million. The smaller purchase signals the Bank is comfortable with the current state of gilt markets as its credible commitment appears to have paid off. Guido appreciates that the BBC this time took the effort to get the facts right…

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who should know better as an ex-Bank of England employee, repeated the same line: “The fact the Bank of England had to step in with a £65 billion bailout with taxpayers money is deeply shameful.” It is not a fact.

Firstly, the market operation will be nowhere near £65 billion. Secondly, it is not money from taxpayers … with the purchases even having the potential to make a profit* on resale. So her “taxpayers’ money” claim is also incorrect. Robbo we can excuse, he only has a PPE degree from Oxford. The Shadow Chancellor, a trained economist, is deliberately and wilfully misrepresenting the facts for political advantage…

*A market source says that marked-to-market the Treasury is currently in profit on the trade.

In the comments, one of Guido’s readers clarified what happens with the Asset Purchase Facility — APF — in this case:

It’s not from Treasury reserves. Treasury has no reserves. It’s not money from taxpayers either. Neither the bank nor Treasury has any taxpayer money.

The Bank has extended a loan to the APF, and credited the APF’s account in the Banking Department with an advance. That is then used to pay whoever is selling the Gilts to the APF, which result in a transfer from the APF’s account in the Banking Department to a commercial bank’s settlement account in the Banking department.

The end result is Gilt assets in the APF balanced by a liability to the Banking department of the Bank of England. The Bank of England has a loan asset to the APF balanced by a liability to the commercial bank.

It’s just good old bank lending. As happens a bazillion times every day across the banking system.

Another reader called out the media for lazy journalism:

All MSM are as bad, Sky and ITV actively promote their left-wing Labour bias too, especially activists like Ed Conway and Peston, respectively, are rarely challenged, and the public generally don`t realise they are being lied to and manipulated. Creating hysteria and headlines are more important now than the truth and lazy groupthink “journalists” just follow the herd. Where is the giant good news headline that the £ is now trading higher than before the mini-budget and the euro is below parity with the dollar, no, they prefer reporting negative UK news to deliberately topple this government.

Kwarteng’s U-Turn U-turn

Thankfully, Kwarteng has recovered from the shock of having to make an economic U-turn on the 45% rate of tax and, although that is still off the table for now, he is reneging on bringing forward a vote on a more detailed plan on November 23.

On Tuesday evening, The Telegraph reported that he has postponed this to next year:

Crunch votes to implement last week’s mini-Budget will not take place until next spring, The Telegraph understands, putting off potential rebellions until 2023.

Many of the tax-cutting measures which Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor, announced last month will not need to be passed in the House of Commons until next March.

That includes bringing forward the 1p cut in the basic rate of income tax and scrapping a planned rise in corporation tax, two of the most costly moves in the package.

It means that Tory rebels hoping to attach amendments to the Finance Bill may have to wait almost six months, potentially buying Liz Truss some political breathing room

There was confusion on Tuesday as Mr Kwarteng appeared to row back on Downing Street indications on Monday night that he would reveal his new fiscal plan earlier than planned.

Mr Kwarteng said that the so-called “medium-term fiscal plan”, which will spell out his approach to bringing down debt and restraining spending, was coming on November 23.

But that appeared to contradict word from his allies 24 hours earlier suggesting the announcement and the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast would actually come sooner.

The OBR forecast is another part of the ongoing anti-Truss narrative. Since its inception by then-Chancellor George Osborne over a decade ago, its forecasts have rarely been accurate. Guido regularly posts on how the economy does much better in reality, putting the OBR to shame.

Yet, the OBR is considered as an oracle:

The failure to produce an OBR forecast alongside the mini-Budget was jumped on by economists and critics to partly explain the reaction from the markets.

It is, in fact, useless.

On Tuesday, Kwarteng gave his reasons for the rushed fiscal event. Contrary to what the lefty narrative says, he was not blaming the Queen, just reminding people of the timeline:

Mr Kwarteng on Tuesday also appeared to cast some blame on the “pressure” of the Queen’s death for mistakes in his tax-cutting fiscal statement.

He said: “We had a nation in mourning and then, literally, four days after the funeral we had the mini-budget.

“It was a high speed, high-pressure environment and we could, as David Cameron used to say, have prepared the pitch a bit better.”

Kwarteng was rightly disappointed that the Government was not given credit for helping out the nation with their winter fuel bills. This is another part of the false lefty narrative that needs exposure:

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative conference on Tuesday night, Mr Kwarteng complained that his energy price freeze was getting too little attention because of the 45p tax row.

The Chancellor said: “If you look at the energy intervention, I mean, nobody’s talking about the energy intervention.

“That was a huge use of the balance sheet to help people. People were facing bills of potentially £6,000 next year, and we’ve intervened.

“There’s gonna be a limit of £2,500. That’s a huge intervention.”

Agreed. He did what people bayed for.

He criticised Rishi Sunak’s handling of taxpayer’s money, turning the former Chancellor’s cries of morality back on him:

Mr Kwarteng has also said the Treasury he inherited from Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson was “unsustainable”.

He said: “We were spending billions and billions and billions and raising the money in tax.”

“How can that be sustainable, when we have a very, very high tax burden and very low growth? We had to come off that trajectory.”

He called himself a “compassionate Conservative” inspired by his mother …

He added: “It’s the people’s money – we raise it through tax. And if we do that we have a moral obligation to look after it.”

Benefits increases

In line with Kwarteng, Liz Truss wants to be careful about taxpayer’s money.

Benefits will have to be raised, but the question is by how much.

One tranche of Conservative MPs says that it must be in line with inflation. Another group says it should be in line with salaries.

Early on Tuesday, The Sun reported:

She is under pressure to hike benefits for the poorest after repeatedly refusing to confirm they will go up in line with inflation.

Speaking at the party conference in Birmingham, the PM said: “We face massive challenges as a country and we need to get through this economic crisis and this energy crisis.

“And we need Britain to come out stronger on the other side, and I want to win over hearts and minds in the country, but also amongst my parliamentary colleagues, to make sure that we are able to deliver for the people of Britain” …

Emboldened rebel MPs are now pushing for further changes having forced her to ditch one flagship measure — with efforts now focusing against a real terms cut to Britain’s benefits bill.

Even her own Cabinet Ministers are ratcheting up the pressure for Ms Truss to commit to raising benefits with inflation and not wages.

Penny Mordaunt told the Times it “makes sense” to uprate benefits with prices.

The Commons leader said: “I have always supported, whether it’s pensions, whether it’s our welfare system, keeping pace with inflation.”

But Ms Truss insisted no decision had been made, yet reiterated her promise to keep the pensioners’ triple lock.

She admitted the reaction to her Growth Plan had not been “absolutely perfect” but insisted it – and the energy – package will help struggling families braced for a gruelling winter.

It includes cutting stamp duty, income tax and capping the price of energy so the typical household will pay no more than £2,500.

Here’s The Spectator‘s list of the benefits rebels hoping for an increase with inflation rather than wages.

Penny Mordaunt was one of Truss’s rivals in the leadership contest and the other five — led by Michael Gove — were staunch Sunak supporters:

Penny Mordaunt

Michael Gove

Damian Green

Esther McVey

John Glen

Mel Stride

Who can forget the day MPs eliminated Mordaunt from the leadership contest, leaving Truss and Sunak as the last two standing?

On July 20, Guido wrote about Mordaunt’s last ditch appeal:

It turns out Penny Mordaunt’s effort to run a “clean” campaign that puts an end to “toxic politics” lasted as long as she thought she had a chance of winning. Now that Liz Truss is the bookies’ favourite, and Kemi Badenoch’s voters are up for grabs, the Mordaunt camp has other ideas. This morning, Mordaunt tweeted an Allison Pearson Telegraph article headlined “Tory MPs – vote for Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss today and you’ll murder the party you love”, which went down like a bucket of cold sick with just about everybody. Don’t bother trying to find the tweet – she’s since deleted it…

Truss wisely made Mordaunt Leader of the House, probably the safest place for her.

The benefits row is likely to erupt after Parliament reconvenes next week. Gove is pictured with Truss:

On Tuesday morning, Guido posted an audio clip of Mordaunt speaking to Times Radio about increasing benefits in line with inflation:

… on Times Radio … Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt was busy once again going characteristically off-script, claiming “it makes sense” to commit to the uplift come rain or shine. Michael Gove is – predictably – saying the same. Even DWP Secretary Chloe Smith has been going around saying “protecting the most vulnerable is a big priority for me”, which surely signals the way the wind is blowing… 

However, as The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson points out, Liz Truss is not being stingy in wanting to increase benefits with salaries rather than inflation:

Difficult decisions lie ahead for Liz Truss as she thinks of ways to constrain spending. One option is to increase benefits in line with average salaries (6.2 per cent), rather than CPI inflation (9.9 per cent): why, it might be argued, should someone on welfare see their income rise faster than someone in work? And with public sector wages rising at just 2 per cent, can government really give a near-10 per cent rise to those out of work?

So she is considering, at very least, uprating benefits by earnings rather than inflation. But if she’s ready for a fight, then so are her Tory opponents. Intriguingly, Penny Mordaunt now seems to be among them.

… Truss may struggle to get a lean settlement through the House of Commons. That’s why it matters that Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, has declared in favour of increasing welfare by inflation. Such open lobbying by a cabinet member is rare and indicates a collapse in discipline

Uprating benefits to inflation would be hugely expensive due to the staggering number currently on out-of-work benefits: 5.3 million in total. This figure has yet to be acknowledged by the government (which prefers a more narrow definition of unemployment) and can only be produced by drilling into its website. There’s a six-month lag, such is the lack of attention to this figure. But it amounts to 13 per cent of the UK working-age population, rising to 20 per cent in Manchester and Birmingham and 25 per cent in Blackpool. Here’s the breakdown, which we keep updated on The Spectator data hub

Nelson has included The Spectator‘s graph in the article. It’s rather shocking.

He says it is time to get the nation back to work but realises that could be a hard sell for Truss to make:

As I’ve argued, the real scandal here is the waste of human potential, more than the waste of money. We have a near-record number of vacancies in the UK – about 1.1 million (hence a lot of the pressure to relax immigration rules), and to combine this with near-record levels on welfare is quite a feat. But it’s also a very expensive situation and a problem that will not be helped by decreasing the factor by which people would be better-off in work.

This is a complex and difficult argument to make – and one distinguishing feature of Liz Truss’s government is that it struggles to have such discussions even with the Tory party, let alone the country

this is a pre-rebellion from Mordaunt: she is describing a situation she’d like, not one that exists. By declaring the restoration of cabinet government, are cabinet members taking back control?

I have written this before Liz Truss gives her speech on Wednesday morning, closing the conference.

The question remains as to whether she can stamp her authority on the Cabinet and Conservative rebels. A tired Tom Harwood, who was also at Labour’s conference last week, explains the situation on GB News:

I will feature brighter aspects of the conference in tomorrow’s post.

On Friday, September 23, 2022, just four days after the Queen’s funeral, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng delivered a ‘fiscal event’ designed to kick start the British economy.

In the days leading up to the fiscal event, so-called because it wasn’t a full budget, the media and Labour were clamouring for it. However, the nation was in mourning for the late monarch and, accordingly, Parliament was in recess.

Conservative critics — i.e. Brexit critics — asked, ‘Where’s Liz? Where’s the Chancellor? Something must be done!’

Parliament reconvened on that Friday to hear Kwarteng deliver a big, bold and beautiful economic plan, which included the abolition of the 45% upper tax rate.

Even Nigel Farage approved, going back in history to Margaret Thatcher’s time as PM:

What happened? The same critics blasted Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss for their rather Thatcherite plan, designed to reverse the nation’s economic course since the Labour days of the early Millennium under Gordon Brown to the present Conservative government:

Small-c conservatives hoped that Boris Johnson would have done this, but it was too big to take on. With the flak Truss and Kwarteng caught, it now appears that Johnson probably feared it would dent his popularity. That’s only my guess, but it makes sense.

Mortgage rate fears

I went to a small local event on Saturday, September 24. Before it began, one woman of pensionable age asked, ‘Has anybody seen the news today? I didn’t have time to look. Has the economy crashed yet?’ It was clear she was angry. Other people in attendance responded with jokes about supply-side economics.

Throughout the week, it was nothing but doom and gloom, even on GB News, which offered few correctives. The Labour Party conference took place last week, which did not help.

I went to the shops on Wednesday, September 28. On my walk, I overheard an estate agent talking to an older couple about their mortgage rate fears as a result of the fiscal event. The media had sent out ominous messages about rising interest rates. The estate agent told the couple that the turbulence would be short term and that it was taking place all over Europe — which is true.

On Thursday, September 29, the BBC’s Question Time aired. One young woman stoked fears about a hike in interest rates on mortgages, claiming — claiming — that hers was going up to over 10%:

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But was this claim true?

Apparently, the claim is false:

https://image.vuukle.com/6724f7e5-83aa-4147-a651-0023d9a5c50a-971787a4-94ef-4f10-82fc-9246536270ac

Skipton Building Society said they had not offered a 10%+ mortgage rate for many years:

https://image.vuukle.com/6724f7e5-83aa-4147-a651-0023d9a5c50a-8a8f5c15-92e9-40ea-bbb6-c03c01f8feba

Once again, the Left — including the media — took charge of the Conservative narrative. They’re still at it.

Conservative Party conference opens

On Sunday, October 2, the Conservative Party conference began in the UK’s Second City, Birmingham, once our industrial capital:

Penny Mordaunt MP, Leader of the House of Commons, paid an excellent tribute to our late Queen, which was followed by a minute’s silence and the singing of the National Anthem.

Having seen the first few speeches on GB News, the mood from the MPs speaking was upbeat. However, the mood in the conference hall was sombre.

Rishi Sunak and several of his supporters, prominent MPs, did not attend. Sunak said he wanted to be absent so that Truss ‘could own the moment’. Ouch.

Boris Johnson also sent in his regrets.

Earlier that day, Truss appeared on Laura Kuenssberg’s Sunday show on BBC1.

Kuenssberg asked her about the abolition of the 45% tax rate. Truss said that was Kwarteng’s decision. Oh, dear. Guido Fawkes has the video:

Because the fiscal event had to be done quickly, Truss and Kwarteng did not consult other Cabinet members.

Also, because it was such a departure from the norm, it appeared shocking to Britons expecting more of the same. Truss told Kuenssberg that she and the Chancellor could have communicated it better (see video):

Truss rightly pointed out that ‘optics’ — rather than reality — dominated the fiscal event:

In the video, Kuenssberg ended by saying that optics were terribly important, implying that they make just as much of an honest representation as does reality. Oh, my days!

Returning to the Conservative Party conference opening day, Michael Gove stuck his oar in, saying that tax cuts are not conservative.

Whaaat?

Former Conservative MP Michael Portillo explained on his GB News show that Gove became an MP during David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister and, therefore, has a different take on economics.

The economy wasn’t the only issue on MPs’ minds. Other of Truss’s leadership rivals in this summer’s contest for PM were not happy.

As is common with party conferences, smaller events took place outside of the main venue.

Last week, Truss said she would like to see more immigration, something that won’t please folks who voted Conservative for the first time in 2019.

On Sunday evening, Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch — the MP whom conservatives deeply admire — attacked Truss’s immigration plans:

Guido has the story, which reveals rifts in the Party (emphases his):

If Liz Truss thought the furore over the 45p rate would distract attention from MPs rebelling on other policy areas, Guido’s sorry to disappoint her. At the IEA/TPA DrinkTanks reception last night, guest of honour Kemi Badenoch openly rebuked the PM’s plans to let in more immigrants to boost growth. The Trade Secretary ignored any sense of collective responsibility as she told the assembled free marketeers:

Simply taking in numbers to boost GDP while GDP per capita falls is not the right way to do that. We need to look again at resolving our productivity issues and that means using capital better, not just getting cheaper and cheaper labour.

Kemi’s brazen and deliberate speech last night all but confirmed The Times’ article on Sunday reporting major Cabinet divisions over the plan, with Kemi and Suella Braverman at odds with the PM’s preferred free market solution. Like Liz, Guido doesn’t have a problem with skilled, legal immigration, it is the illegal immigration which is concerning. It seems Tory Cabinet ministers aren’t even pretending to play happy families anymore…

Also that evening, Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt spoke at a small gathering to complain — rightly — about poor Conservative communication over policy making:

She made her views known at an event called ‘Conservatives in Communication’.

Sadly, Guido points out:

… host Adam Honeysett-Watts had to tell the crowd to shut up and listen. Unfortunately, most of the attendees were far more interested in guzzling free booze and chatting to each other.

Meanwhile, Truss addressed a group of Conservatives, explaining the need for growth — now. She, too, said that Party communications are lacking:

She is not wrong, and she has to make up for the past two years, consumed by dealing with the pandemic.

The second day of conference brings U-turn on 45% tax rate

Did Michael Gove, the Scot who wants to become PM, exercise his influence once again?

Nothing against Scots, but their politicians do seem to think that people need to be micro-managed, which Gove does, and that we should continue a globalist agenda in, well, nearly everything.

For the first time in years, Gove is not in Cabinet.

That said, he has never supported PMs he has served, going all the way back to David Cameron. This comment comes from one of Guido’s readers (purple emphases mine):

Cameron, don’t forget Cameron. Gove mortally wounded him too with Brexit. I don’t disagree with Gove supporting Brexit obviously but the way he went about it was like a serpent to someone who called him his friend. His whole front line career has been poisonous towards the sitting leader.

At 7:17 a.m., Guido tweeted that Truss and Kwarteng were backing down on abolishing the 45% tax rate:

Kwarteng said he would still be going ahead with the rest of the fiscal event policy.

That U-turn will empower Gove and the Left — again, media included — to control the narrative even more.

Baroness Thatcher would have been so disappointed:

And I know what Thatcher would have done with Gove: withdrawn the Party whip.

Guido says that the reversal came about on Sunday evening and that The Sun had the exclusive:

After The Sun broke the exclusive of conference late last night, the Lobby’s just been informed that the government will now not be going ahead with the 45p rate abolition, with a u-turn expected to be announced within the next hour. Just yesterday the press were briefed that Kwasi was to tell conference “We must stay the course. I am confident our plan is the right one.”

This morning the course has not been stayed – it has been re-directed in another direction altogether. Kwasi’s statement:

From supporting British business to lowering the tax burden for the lowest paid, our Growth Plan sets out a new approach to build a more prosperous economy. However, it is clear that the abolition of the 45p tax rate has become a distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing our country. As a result, I’m announcing we are not proceeding with the abolition of the 45p tax rate. We get it, and we have listened. This will allow us to focus on delivering the major parts of our growth package. First, our Energy Price Guarantee, which will support households and businesses with their energy bills. Second, cutting taxes to put money back in the pockets of 30 million hard-working people and grow our economy. Third, driving supply side reforms – including accelerating major infrastructure projects – to get Britain moving.

The move came after crisis talks yesterday between the PM and Chancellor; their hands forced by Tory MPs continuing to state on the record they couldn’t vote for the plans, despite an open warning from [new Party chairman, MP] Jake Berry that they’d lose the whip. Gove was at the forefront of the rebellion…

Guido’s cartoonist came up with this:

It is unclear how much of this has to come up for a vote in Parliament in order to proceed.

However, it is becoming apparent that a significant number of MPs have not united behind Liz Truss:

If enough Conservative MPs rebel in a vote, the Government could collapse. A collapse could trigger an imminent general election (GE). With the way things are, Labour could win and form a coalition with the other Opposition parties. That would be a disaster, particularly in voting reform if they push through a vote for 16-year-olds and immigrants to vote in a GE. Furthermore, they would probably also want some type of proportional representation to replace the centuries-old first-past-the-post.

Of course, the alternative is that Conservative MPs have another leadership contest, but that would look as if they were incompetent. One MP suggested that Conservative Party members be locked out of that vote altogether, which would anger them deeply.

An hour after Kwarteng announced the U-turn, he was on BBC Radio 4 with Conservative-loathing Nick Robinson. This is so sad:

Then Kwarteng went on Nick Ferrari’s LBC breakfast show. Ferrari pressed him to say ‘no more U-turns’ but the Chancellor repeated, ‘I’ve said what I’ve said’. Guido has the video:

As a result of the U-turn, the markets were no longer predicting a 6% rise in interest rates, but something slightly lower — 5.5% and 5.75%. Guido is right in saying this is an emotional response:

Sterling was also slightly up, but not hugely:

In closing, let’s return to Gordon Brown, who succeeded Tony Blair as PM — without an election, I might add.

Conservative MP Gillian Keegan put the blame squarely on Brown in an interview with Times Radio on Monday morning.

Guido has the story:

Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan was spot on when she told Times Radio this morning that the top rate of tax was a political time bomb left behind by Gordon Brown:

I always knew that it was going to be a political problem. I mean, let’s be honest, this was a political trap that was set by Gordon Brown in the dying days of his role as PM, right. And I paid the 50% tax. I was in business then. And I remember how devastating it was because actually, it meant you were paying about 65% tax. And there’s something in your mind, which is like, really, you know, only 35% for me? And I’m doing all these hours. I was a business person, then it was set as a political trap…. In theory it [the top rate of tax] should never have been there.

There is something immoral about the government taking the majority of your income in tax. It is also a disheartening disincentive; reversing this spiteful tax is the correct policy, though this might perhaps be the wrong time. Getting rid of a political tax that was only set up by Gordon Brown when he knew he was likely to be ousted –to hurt the Tories rather than raise revenue – was the right thing to do. Even the IFS’ Paul Johnson thinks in revenue terms “It might plausibly cost nothing at all”. The tax was not about raising revenue – it was about political positioning.

Back in Fife, Brown will be rocking in his chair laughing that his tax booby trap, announced only weeks before he left office, and which was expected to cause problems for his successor David Cameron, has finally exploded in the face of a Tory Chancellor. The fuse wire on Brown’s time bomb turned out to be 12 years long…

Truss and Kwarteng have learned a lot in the past month.

I do hope that they have learned something from their baptism by fire, especially Truss, for whom I have the greatest empathy. The Queen’s death delayed her getting off the ground running. Then when she was finally able to do something, the media attacked her even more for it. Now the Party’s MPs are angry with her. Some have already submitted no confidence letters to Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee. The polls have been tanking. Two show voters giving Labour a 30% lead in the polls, something not seen for decades.

No one has even given Truss or the Chancellor a chance.

I will continue to pray for hers and Kwarteng’s success against all odds.

They are doing the right thing …

https://image.vuukle.com/71283898-5747-4196-bef2-20ded1203630-99802d46-0371-4650-8e58-d8b585617461

… which is why they are being attacked mercilessly.

The death and mourning period of Queen Elizabeth II is steeped in history, a time that those of us in the United Kingdom will never forget.

Within the space of a week, we had a new Prime Minister, a King and a new Prince of Wales.

The hand of God is at work.

This change takes place at a time when our Kingdom is stymied, divided with a number of Scots and Welsh hoping for independence while the Northern Irish argue about unification with the Republic of Ireland as the Northern Ireland Protocol has been a source of problems since we left the EU.

These have become political arguments and, as such, are left to the Government to resolve.

Perhaps a King will be able to break an impasse where the Government cannot.

My previous posts discuss what happened when the Queen died and on Friday, September 9, 2022.

Friday, September 9 — continued

The first rendition for 70 years of God Save the King took place at Friday evening’s remembrance service for the public at St Paul’s:

This seven-hour long video from The Telegraph shows the busy yet quiet scenes at Buckingham Palace on Friday:

The King also met with Prime Minister Liz Truss for the first time:

Meanwhile, the Royal Butler, Grant Harrold, who worked for the then-Prince Charles when William and Harry were young and now teaches etiquette, expressed his sympathy:

He posted his video of the activity at the Palace:

He also posted this poignant press photograph of the King and the Queen Consort entering Buckingham Palace on Friday afternoon …

… and pledged his loyalty to his former employer:

Saturday, September 10

We witnessed a historic event on Saturday, as the Accession Ceremony was broadcast for the first time ever:

It began at 10:00 a.m. at St James Palace with the Privy Council.

The purpose of the ceremony is to have the monarch sign relevant proclamations of loyalty to the people, the Church as Defender of the Faith and to the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian.

Afterwards, the new monarch is proclaimed not only in London but in the following 24 hours throughout the United Kingdom.

Flags, which had been at half mast for the Queen, were elevated to full mast for that 24-hour period. Afterwards, the flags returned to half mast.

On Saturday afternoon, the King met with the Privy Council members in a private session.

There are over 700 Privy Council members. Unless they do something highly illegal, they are members for life. This is but a partial list of current members, who come from all over the United Kingdom.

I was aghast to see that so many of the members gathering at St James Palace to witness the Accession Ceremony were a true rogues gallery. Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was present. So were Scottish National Party leaders Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford, as was the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

A historian told GB News that only two members have ever been expelled in the last century or so. One was suspected of treason during the First World War and the second, from just several years ago, was too heavily mired in the MPs expenses scandal.

Guido Fawkes’s cartoonist Mark gives us an idea, showing a fictionalised quip of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whom Tony Blair appointed to succeed him, saying that he shares much in common with the Queen in having been unelected. Other former Prime Ministers in the cartoon are David Cameron, John Major, Tony Blair, Boris Johnson and Theresa May:

The Telegraph has an excellent article about the Accession Ceremony and how much has changed in 70 years, including the presence of women and ethnic minorities (emphases mine):

At the personal request of the King, the historic meeting of the Accession Council – a ceremony rooted in antiquity – was filmed by two television cameras.

The first part of the Privy Council meeting was witnessed by a crowd of some 200 suited and booted parliamentarians past and present, including all six living former prime ministers.

In 1952, when the young Princess Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen, this gathering would have comprised only men in uniform or morning dress.

Saturday’s array of faces reflected a notably different society. There were a significant number of women, dressed almost entirely in formal black dresses or suits. The majority of men wore morning dress or black suits, with a white shirt and black tie. David Cameron, dressed in a navy suit, stood out in a sea of black.

Among those present were former party leaders Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford and several members of the cabinet, including James Cleverly, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Ben Wallace.

Also present was former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, whose leadership of the Church of England spanned the difficult time of the King’s divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales and the fallout from his affair with Camilla.

The article gives us the history of the Privy Council:

The Privy Council dates back to Anglo Saxon times. Once an advisory body for the monarch, today its role is largely symbolic.

For the King, whose first few hours as monarch have included a royal walkabout and a televised address to the nation, it was a nod to the layers of constitution and practice in which the monarchy is rooted.

This is how the ceremony unfolded at St James Palace, where the King has been working for decades. Penny Mordaunt MP, candidate for the Conservative leadership, played a prominent role:

At 10am Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary [and top civil servant], urged those present to ensure mobile phones were switched off and an expectant silence fell over the picture gallery.

The platform party then duly filed slowly in, stepping onto the low red dais.

They included the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, Penny Mordaunt, the acting Lord President of the Council, the Lord Chancellor and Liz Truss, the Prime Minister.

Behind them were the black-clad Queen Consort and the new Prince of Wales, accompanied by a small group of staff from the Royal Household …

In position, he [the King] allowed himself a brief glance around the room, taking in the moment before turning to listen to Ms Mordaunt as she announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died.

“My lords, it is my sad duty to inform you that her most gracious majesty, Queen Elizabeth the second, has passed away on Thursday, Sept 8 2022 at Balmoral Castle,” she said.

Ms Mourdant then invited the clerk of the council, Richard Tilbrook, to read the proclamation to the packed gallery.

He said: “Charles III, by the grace of god of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of his other realms and territory, King, head of the commonwealth, defender of the faith, to whom we do acknowledge all faith and obedience with humble affection, beseeching God by whom kings and queens do reign to bless his majesty with long and happy years to reign over us.”

He ended by saying “God Save the King.”

The packed room dutifully echoed in unison: “God Save the King.”

Until I saw this ceremony in full, meaning during the public proclamations later, I could never understand how people could lament a beloved monarch only to then proclaim the new one so passionately.

They do so because they are grateful that the new monarch is able to serve quickly and unhindered. In other words, the monarchy has worked once again, to everyone’s relief.

After everyone said, ‘God save the King’, Charles III had proclamations to sign:

The Prince of Wales then stepped forward to sign the declaration with his left hand. He was followed by the Queen [Consort], who slowly signed her name with care.

Other members of the platform party followed suit, including a hesitant Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who briefly appeared unsure where to sign.

Ms Mordaunt went on to list eight orders of council, ensuring that the proclamation would be published and circulated nationwide and that guns would be fired at Hyde Park and at the Tower of London.

Formal business concluded, those assembled then filed slowly out of the room.

The second part of the Accession Council took place a few minutes later in the Throne Room. Privy Counsellors eligible to take part duly filed in below the coved ceiling embellished with block gilt plasterwork.

On the dais before them, the throne still bore the Queen’s “ER” cypher. A new one currently being designed will be read “CR”, Charles Rex.

There, they were joined by the King for the first time, who began with a personal declaration.

This is the video of his declaration:

The article summarises what he said:

The sovereign, in formal black attire with a white waistcoat, stepped forward to the lectern and unfolded his notes before declaring it his “sorrowful duty” to announce the death of his “beloved mother”.

He spoke of an “irreparable loss” as he paid tribute to the late Queen’s selfless service and acknowledged the “heavy task” before him and he strives to follow her example.

The King said: “My mother’s reign was unequalled in its duration, its dedication and its devotion. Even as we grieve, we give thanks for this most faithful life.

“I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me. In taking up these responsibilities, I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set in upholding constitutional government and to seek the peace, harmony and prosperity of the peoples of these islands and of the Commonwealth Realms and Territories throughout the world.”

The King said he was “profoundly encouraged by the constant support of my beloved wife” who watched, alongside the Prince of Wales, from the platform.

He then held aloft a small blue bible as he took the oath to preserve the Church of Scotland, necessary due to the division between church and state in Scotland.

The King then signed two copies of a declaration confirming the oath had been taken using an ink pot that was a gift from his sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex.

He produced a pen from his jacket pocket to do the honours, carefully dipping it into the pot of ink before signing the first document with a flourish.

Then the King visibly grimaced at his staff members:

There was a flicker of frustration when a tray containing another pen appeared in his way and he signalled to aides to remove it.

When he stood, he appeared to clip the ink pot with his hand but it did not spill. The moment prompted a brief glance between King and Queen as he returned to his position.

The other pen was then passed back to the Prince of Wales to enable both him and the Queen to sign the documents.

Here’s the video:

The signing continued:

As Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, added her signature, the Coldstream Guards could be heard playing outside.

The Privy Council members filed out to sign copies of the proclamation in a large corridor. The Daily Mail has the video, accompanied by this blurb:

King Charles III proclamation signing: It was the first time a monarch’s Accession has been broadcast and cameras were fixed on the MPs antics as they lined up to sign their names earlier this morning. As Mr Cameron approached the paper, he could be seen gesturing with his glasses, adding: ‘I need to put my glasses on so I can see what I’m doing’ (left). Meanwhile Mr Blackford could be seen chatting to the deputy Labour leader Mrs Rayner after he accidentally stepped on her foot in the line.

Then it was time to proclaim the new King publicly in Friary Court. St James Palace was originally a friary. Henry VIII dissolved it along with other similar Catholic institutions.

One of the Palace windows had to be removed in order for this final step to happen:

David White, Garter King of Arm, in his colourful regalia and flanked by other Officers of Arms and Sergeants at Arms, later read the proclamation of the new King from a balcony at St James’s Palace, as cheers of “God save the King” rang out.

A small group of the general public were allowed to stand on one side of Friary Court to witness this public proclamation:

The King and Queen Consort did not appear. They thanked Palace staff and officials for the ceremony and left to go to Buckingham Palace:

After the public proclamation at St James ended, two more took place. One was at the Tower of London and the other at the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

This video shows the gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower:

Another Telegraph article says:

A traditional Royal Salute comprises 21 rounds. A further 20 rounds are fired in royal parks, such as Hyde Park.

At the Tower of London, a royal salute comprises the traditional 21 rounds, a further 21 rounds to show the loyalty of the City of London to the Crown, and a final 20 rounds as the tower is a royal palace and fortress

The tradition of gun salutes routinely being fired throughout the country to mark significant national events dates back centuries.

There are historical records of salutes taking place as early as the 14th-century when guns and ammunition began to be adopted widely.

Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.

Gun salutes occur on the following royal anniversaries: Accession Day, the Monarch’s birthday, Coronation Day, the Monarch’s official birthday, the State Opening of Parliament, royal births, and when a visiting Head of State meets the sovereign in London, Windsor or Edinburgh.

The City of London’s proclamation was similar to the one at St James in many ways, but the City has its own traditions which date back to the Guilds of the Middle Ages. The City is the only part of the realm where the monarch is subordinate to the Lord Mayor of London, who is elected by that district’s aldermen for a one-year term. It should be noted that the Lord Mayor of London and the Mayor of London are two different people in two different posts.

A lot of people were in the City for the proclamation.

The Telegraph article about the Royal Salute also described what happened in the City. It was written before the ceremony began, hence the use of future tense:

At midday the Proclamation will be read from the steps of the Royal Exchange by Clarenceux King of Arms. The Lord Mayor of the City of London, together with the Court of Aldermen and Members of Common Council, will be present.

The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of The Honourable Artillery Company, The Lord Mayor’s Body Guard in the City of London, will be on duty at the Royal Exchange. They will be accompanied by The Band of the Honourable Artillery Company and eight State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry.

It was really quite something to see. The senior attendees wore robes trimmed in fur, which is something that would have been from the days of the Guilds, which still exist but not in the way they did for commerce hundreds of years ago:

Later that day, Princes William and Harry, along with their wives, went on a walkabout at Windsor Castle. One young woman embraced Meghan enthusiastically:

The Telegraph has more. Catherine, the new Princess of Wales, did not look happy.

——————————————————————

Sunday was about Princess Anne, who had the sorrowful duty of accompanying her mother’s casket from Balmoral to Edinburgh.

She fulfilled her responsibility admirably, considering that it took hours in order for the public to grieve as the car went through several cities and towns before arriving at Holyroodhouse.

More on that tomorrow.

The Conservative Party leadership contest now has three candidates.

The big three, according to MPs

Kemi Badenoch lost in the vote held on Tuesday, July 19, 2022:

Every one of Guido Fawkes’s tweets and posts since she lost has laments that ‘the only Conservative’ is out of the running. More on that below.

These are the votes from Tuesday:

Rishi Sunak just missed getting the ‘magic’ number of votes — 120 — to propel him automatically onto the ballot to be sent to Conservative Party members. It should be noted that although Tobias Ellwood lost the Party whip for not participating in the vote of confidence in Boris’s government on Monday and was unable to vote on Tuesday, the whip has been temporarily restored allowing him to cast a proxy vote.

Not a lot happened, although people at home watching this contest unfold wonder about the incongruity of MPs casting their votes for certain candidates.

A case in point is Sir Desmond Swayne, normally associated with common sense, who is now backing Rishi. He had backed Kemi.

However, Tom Harwood explained on GB News on Tuesday that it all depends on what sort of relationship MPs have with each other.

I’m not sure what Sir Roger Gale is on but he’s clearly out of touch when he says the electorate want Penny Mordaunt:

He got a lot of replies. No one agreed with his assessment:

Furthermore, voters still want Boris back. One of Guido’s readers wrote (purple emphases mine):

On GB News last night they were split over woke Penny or mad Liz, they were united that Blairite Rishi should not be given the job. But and a big but they all believed Boris should still be there (except Nigel). Dan Wootton also held a poll of 40,000 voters and the overwhelming support was to reinstate Boris.

Kemi — a nation laments

Kemi received many supportive replies to her thank you tweet:

The Times‘s political editor discovered that, in a poll of Conservative Party members, Kemi Badenoch would have beaten all the other candidates:

It was similar on Conservative Home, going back to July 16 and 17, when they had polled their readers:

The order of play is different from the result of our survey yesterday.

There, Badenoch was top with 31 per cent, Truss second with 20 per cent, Mordaunt third with 18 per cent and Sunak fourth with 17 per cent.

Here, Badenoch wins all four head-to-heads. Truss wins three and loses one. Sunak wins two and loses two. Mordaunt wins one and loses three. Tugendhat loses four.

So Camp Truss, third in the Parliamentary ballot, can argue on the evidence of this survey that she could beat the top two runners in a membership ballot – so her supporters should stick with her.  And not desert to right-of-Tory-centre alternatives such as Badenoch.

… And Camp Badenoch, fourth in that ballot, can say that on the evidence of this survey she can trounce all comers – including Sunak. So right-of-Tory-centre MPs should switch to her if they’re not backing her already.

Sadly, MPs have ignored both Conservative and conservative voters.

Many readers voiced their support for Kemi in the comments on another Conservative Home article, ‘Which candidate has the most public support and is the most likely to win the next election? And is that even the right question?’

No one likes Rishi.

In ‘It should have been Kemi’, Tim Dawson, writing for The Critic, said:

Kemi Badenoch was a golden ticket. Conservative members — who, according to Conservative Home, favoured her by a massive margin in any “final two” run off — could see it. The media could see it. The Labour Party most definitely could see it. Tory MPs, sadly, could not.

I am not quite sure what possessed them. Perhaps it was fear: the fear of handing over to someone they regarded as inexperienced. “We need a safe pair of hands,” they told each other, in between sipping pints on Parliament’s sweltering terrace; Badenoch’s “not ready”. 

Both main parties have been here before: rejecting more attractive leaders in favour of tried-and-tested old war horses. More recently, this approach yielded Gordon Brown and Theresa May. Further back, Jim Callaghan and Alec Douglas-Home. And what of “leaps of faith”? Well, they produced Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron. Only Conservative MPs could consider this history and plump for the don’t-rock-the-boat option.  

I suspect the Right’s somewhat eccentric notion of hierarchy will have had something to do with it, too.

It was “Liz’s turn”. Truss is foreign secretary and it is inarguable that she understands high office. But, she is also … well, weird. The nasal voice; the maladroit presentation. The Margaret Thatcher cosplay. As Tory Twitter worked itself into a frenzy over the last week it became obvious who supported Truss because they kept noting that “charisma doesn’t matter”. 

But charisma does matter. A Prime Minister must be able to communicate — to connect — and the harsh reality is, as we saw in both TV debates, Liz Truss has nothing on Badenoch. She is May 2.0; in fact, I give it a week before the Trussbot starts dancing.

Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt are also flawed. Sunak is slick, yes, and better known but he is intimately embroiled in Johnson’s car crash, and there are serious concerns over the optics of his wealth

Mordaunt, meanwhile, is the worst of the lot. She may on the face of it present herself as a traditional jolly hockey sticks Tory – a kind of Hattie-Jacques-on-shore-leave type – but her politics are quite different. Culturally, she is more extreme than many Labour politicians, viewing harmless sitcoms such as Dad’s Army as “racist” and deploring the colonial legacy of Britain’s honours system. 

Her views on sexuality and gender are even more controversial. She is gaining a reputation as worryingly “economical with the actualité”, and it is likely that – if, God help us, she did win – a significant chunk of the “conservative family” simply would not accept her, viewing a period in opposition as preferable to propping up her agenda.

A Kemi Badenoch premiership would have freed the Conservative Party, and the country, of every one of these problems. She offered intellectual ballast, ideological commitment and a history-making fresh start. The other candidates are all, to some extent, continuations of the old regime. Badenoch would have blown apart the consensus and opened up new road.

A barrister tweeted that Dawson’s assessment is correct:

Aris Roussinos, not someone with whom I normally agree, wrote an excellent article for UnHerd, ‘Kemi Badenoch has saved the Tories’.

Roussinos states his dislike for the top three candidates and is particularly scathing about Penny Mordaunt:

Hostile to everything conservatives — if not the Conservative party — hold dear, lambasting even Civilisation’s Sir Kenneth Clark for scoring lowly on the identity politics scoreboard, Mordaunt is the barbarian within the gates of British conservatism. She may, in time, make Labour a perfectly adequate junior minister, but a Tory leader she is not.

Of Rishi Sunak, he says:

a party ready for Rishi, in these circumstances, is simply one desirous of death.

Roussinos says that Kemi Badenoch understands Britain’s current malaise and could fix it, given a chance:

of all the candidates, she was the one who was willing to address the fact that Britain is not working, and cannot suffer more of the same. The central thrust of her platform was that “it’s time for change”, and that we are held tight “in the grip of an underlying economic, social, cultural and intellectual malaise”. The very first sentence on her campaign website observed that “in 2016 and 2019 our country voted for change, yet still a sense that things aren’t working remains.” Distinguishing herself from her own party’s policies, she declared that “We’ve had a poor decade for living standards,” as while “inflation has made the cost-of-living crisis acute… the problems go back way further.” Twelve years into a succession of increasingly lacklustre Tory governments, Badenoch was the only candidate offering the possibility of an upward path. Within the narrow parameters of political speech acceptable within the party, she promised to reform the state rather than just offering fantasies of shrinking it, observing that “the machine is not working”, and pledging that “as an engineer, I know how to strip things down and get them to work”.

Knowingly or not, she has voiced a national wish list:

Kemi was the only candidate to address the state’s incapacity rather than merely its size, railing against a cumbersome machinery which “can’t deliver passports and driving licenses on time” and in which “We are spending more than you have ever done, and yet people’s satisfaction with the quality of their day-to-day services is falling.” 

Her argument was that the state should reduce itself to its core priorities, which would “require schools to concentrate on effective whole class teaching of rigorous subjects rather than allocating tight resources to superfluous support staff and peripheral activities” and in which “we should get the police to focus on neighbourhood crime and not waste time and resources worrying about hurt feelings online”. Whatever her rationale for getting there, to achieve a tighter, more competent state on slimmer resources would entail reform of British governance at almost every level: whether or not you liked her framing, this remains a desirable goal in itself.

And indeed, on the multiple domestic crises we face she showed a willingness to use the state, even if only cautiously, that marked her out from the competition. Where Sunak always seemed to be held captive in a small cell underneath the Treasury rather than its master, Kemi proposed to break the Treasury up, creating a new department for economic growth directly answerable to her: a thrilling dash of dirigisme in an otherwise stale debate. On the central issue of housing, she stressed that “I have seen the housing crisis from both the housing department and from my constituency, and I know that supply and delivery [my emphasis] is the problem. We must tackle this in the round to ensure more people can own their own home.” On the cost of living crisis she promised an emergency budget, distinguishing her variant of tax cuts from the competition by stressing that they must be “focused” on “those working hard on low and average incomes”. On the wave of strikes that will follow us through this year’s hard winter, she declared, in a conciliatory tone alien to the other candidates, that “We need to work better with the unions. We need to show them respect.” 

The case made for Kemi by various Tory outlets as a rampaging culture warrior, it must be added, always seemed mistaken in its emphasis. The culture war, tiresome and interminable as it is, is simply a battle for control of the state’s largesse, kept pointlessly alive in the nation’s discourse only as a convenient source of attention and income for the news industry and its roster of tame talking heads. Instead – and this was a major argument in Kemi’s favour – she understood that the culture war is downstream from government funding, and therefore that the only means of finally laying it to rest is by withdrawing the state’s inexplicable subsidy of its identitarian enemies. As she observed, the government has over the past few decades “piled into pressure groups and caved in to every campaigner with a moving message”, draining the state’s budget on sustaining a parasitical caste of activists who frustrate governance at every turn

Her argument that she supported, simultaneously, “free markets, limited government [and] a strong nation state” suffered from the same internal contradictions of almost all modern conservatism, the first two being antithetical to the survival of the third. Yet of all the candidates seeking to square this impossible circle, Kemi always seemed the one with the greatest possibility of success, who, at least by aiming for reform, may just have brought good governance in her wake.

The party may not have been persuaded by the case for Kemi, at least this time round, but the enthusiasm she summoned up from the party base, and from conservative commentators of wildly differing stripes, left the Tories with a vision, only partly formed but still powerful, of a successful future. She exits the contest as a strong candidate for the years to come, having made the party listen to a message it must heed if it wishes to exist. As Kemi said, in what we must hope will not become one of the great missed turning points in British history, for the Tories as for the country as a whole, “this is no time for steady as it goes, sinking into decline. It’s time for change.”

Guido’s post on Kemi’s defeat garnered 456 comments, all of which are on topic.

One person wrote:

Badenoch – the only one with true Tory values, her background would close down nearly any potential Labour attack lines, no association with previous regime, massive support in the party membership and excitement in the more trustworthy media outlets – she represented a genuine prospect to turn the party around. And now she’s gone. I feel quite sad about it.

So do I.

To make matters even more poignant, today is Boris’s final PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions).

There is one good thing, though. Everyone now knows who Kemi Badenoch is.

Many of us hope that she will get a good Cabinet post. Failing that, I hope that she is vocal on the backbenches.

May God bless this lady, her husband and her family.

I will have more on the leadership contest tomorrow.

Before discussing the latest developments among the candidates for Conservative Party leader, let’s look at the weather here in England.

The weather presenters have been going on for a week about how hot it’s going to get here. From the beginning, they forecasted 40°C temps, roughly 100°F. Weather maps have been given a deep red colour, as if we’re going to burn alive.

Monday and Tuesday were going to be the hottest days of the week. Monday’s high was 38°C, reported in only five places, two of which were airports, so I discount those.

The other three were Cambridge University Botanical Gardens, Cavendish, Suffolk and a village called Sancton Downham.

One of Guido Fawkes’s readers posted a photo of the Cambridge location, which makes it suspect. The first photo shows the area when the weather station was first installed. The photo on the right shows what the area looks like today:

Guido’s reader commented (emphases in purple mine):

… the siting of Stevenson screens is crucial when recording temperature change. As I type the Cambridge station is now recording the highest temperature in the UK but it has been surrounded by new buildings which invalidates its scientific accuracy. It certainly must not be used to claim all time highs.

The unit and sensors should also be positioned in open space away from any nearby potential sources of heat such as buildings, airports and brick walls, where free circulation of air can occur, and over a natural surface, grass is recommended as other surfaces such as concrete can cause significant error leading to all time high temperatures being recorded inaccurately.

Was it warm yesterday? Yes.

Was it pleasant? Of course. I did some heavy duty gardening.

I do not understand why the British panic over summer temperatures, especially since most of them go to scorching hot climes on holiday. This graphic sums it up well:

https://image.vuukle.com/c4318e5c-ff26-463e-83e3-1b1398dfdcc3-53113164-d82c-42d0-9775-ee09473cb692

It’s hard not to agree with this university lecturer, who wonders how ever created an Empire when we are such Moaning Minnies about heat. Were the British made up of sterner stuff in the 18th and 19th centuries? Perhaps so:

Now on to the Conservative Party leadership contest.

Monday’s vote: Tugendhat’s out

Conservative MPs voted again on Monday, July 18, 2022.

Tom Tugendhat, our Army superhero, was eliminated from the contest:

Was this his mode of transport home?

https://image.vuukle.com/8e715ed0-6352-4ca2-acf4-8a9197e44637-b1cda9b7-c715-495c-8c04-a7dd0146a74d

Here’s Tom in an Army sweater:

He made a video thanking his supporters:

Guido Fawkes gives us Tom’s main statement:

I have been overwhelmed by the response we have received across the country. People are ready for a clean start and our party must deliver on it and put trust back into politics.

No doubt the ladies at Mumsnet enjoyed it:

The final four

Going into Tuesday, these were the final four candidates:

Guido has Monday’s vote tally. Results went down as well as up (red emphases his):

    • Rishi Sunak – 115 (+14)
    • Penny Mordaunt – 82 (-1)
    • Liz Truss – 71 (+7)
    • Kemi Badenoch – 58 (+9)
    • Tom Tugendhat – 31 (-1) OUT

Penny’s lost support, Kemi is still in contention. Liz is now second favourite at the bookies. All to play for…

Guido had more analysis later in the day:

Whilst tonight’s leadership vote-off is unsurprising in that sense, the way the votes have gone for the remaining candidates are much more interesting.

Penny has gone down one vote, totally stalling. While she still leads Liz Truss, this trajectory will kill her momentum. Kemi has done very well; gaining nine backers to Truss’s seven. While tonight’s result in terms of eliminating Tugendhat may have been predictable, the remaining results make the final two more uncertain than ever. Though Rishi is now guaranteed a space in the final two…

The next vote took place on Tuesday afternoon. I will have an analysis of the results on Wednesday.

Conservative Party members see things differently

After Conservative MPs whittle their choices down to two candidates, the Party will send ballots out to members to vote for their choice, with a new leader — and new Prime Minister — to be in place by September 5, when Parliament reconvenes.

Note the latest polling from the Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association, which I featured last week. Kemi Badenoch was — and is — still in the lead. Rishi Sunak comes in a rather distant third:

Guido says:

The slick Rishi machine has to move the dial with the membership in a big way…

Rishi Sunak

Rishi is in a bit of a pickle, which gives Labour a lot of ammunition should he be our next Prime Minister.

The pandemic turned a lot of Britons into supporters of big state government, as Lord Hannan points out:

On May 26, the then-Chancellor announced a handout of £400 to all households in order to help them with rising energy costs:

The financial support has now been distributed.

Is it a good plan? Guido reported on the reaction from various think tanks.

The one from Taxpayers’ Alliance resonated with me most:

The TaxPayers’ Alliance isn’t impressed either, claiming the move is “little more than the government taking with one hand and giving with the other“. Chief Executive John O’Connell said:

Taxes are the single biggest bill families face and these huge handouts will see politicians hoovering up the incomes of struggling taxpayers, creating a cost of government crisis. If the chancellor wants to boost growth and help households, he can deliver both right now by bringing forward the planned income tax cut and slashing costly levies on energy bills.

But that was not all.

Rishi outlined other plans, altogether resulting in a £15bn bailout:

Guido has a summary:

As expected, Rishi has fired up the money printer once again to combat inflation. The Treasury claims it’ll cost £15 billion, with £5 billion a year supposedly coming from the newly-announced windfall taxenergy profits levy“. Here’s what to expect:

    • Windfall tax on oil and gas companies. Projected to raise £5 billion a year.
    • One-off ‘cost of living payment’ of £650 to approximately 8 million means-tested households. Two lump sum payments directly to bank accounts.
    • Households already receiving winter fuel allowance will also get a one-off payment of £300.
    • Those on disability payments will also get of £150. Many of those in receipt of this payment will also be eligible for the £650 sum, bringing their total support to £800.
    • Universal grant of £400 to all households. Doubling the £200 energy bill loan, and turning it into a full grant.

Rishi boasted when making the announcement that his plan is more generous than that proposed by Labour’s Rachel Reeves. The levy will raise £5 billion a year, and this will cost £15 billion. The difference will have to be financed by borrowing repaid by taxpayers…

People were shocked.

Labour won this round.

In Parliament, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said:

We pushed for the windfall tax. They’ve adopted it.

We said the buy now pay later scheme was wrong. Now they’ve ditched it.

This government is out of ideas, out of touch and out of time.

When it comes to the big issues facing the country, Mr Speaker, the position is now clear:

We leadThey follow.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was Boris’s opponent in the 2019 general election, was also pleased:

This was Jeremy Corbyn’s plan in Labour’s 2019 manifesto. It included a windfall tax:

Taxes in Britain are now at a 70-year high. Who was Prime Minister then? Labour’s Clement Attlee:

Lord Hannan, a former MEP, fears this will be a permanent development. He might well be right, unfortunately:

The plan made two front pages:

Cabinet members reacted the following day, including Jacob Rees-Mogg:

According to The TimesRees-Mogg raised concerns in Cabinet yesterday, suggesting “the package would be better funded by reducing government spending on infrastructure projects.” The paper puts BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in this camp as well, with him telling allies he’s particularly concerned by BP’s announcement that it’s reviewing its plans to invest in the North Sea. Guido agrees with the anonymous cabinet minister who said “The politics of this is just so bad. We voted against it, we marched the whole party up the hill and are now taking them back down again. It looks like we’re being dictated to by Labour”…

Conservative MP John Redwood said that taxation does not equal prosperity:

On May 28, Lord Hannan wrote an excellent editorial for The Telegraph, ‘The Tories have almost wholly given up on conservative principles. What a tragic waste’.

Excerpts follow:

The Tories have almost wholly given up on conservative principles. They used to argue that lower taxes stimulate growth and so lead, in the long run, to higher revenue; that countries, like families, should live within their means; that individuals spend their money more wisely than state bureaucrats; that arbitrary and complicated taxes are as much a deterrent to investment as high taxes. Not any more …

When George Osborne imposed a one-off tax on energy firms in 2011, the Treasury Red Book predicted that it would bring in £2 billion. Instead, oil companies cut their North Sea investments and tax revenues fell.

Again, Johnson and Sunak know this. As recently as three months ago, the Chancellor was telling us that the “obvious impact of a windfall tax would be to deter investment”. Both men understand that the only way out of our present predicament is through growth. Both understand that the way to achieve higher growth is to cut spending, scrap regulations, remove trade barriers, and ensure sound money. But these things are usually unpopular in the short term, and that seems to be their chief consideration.

We are thus in a negative feedback loop. When voters see the Conservatives, supposedly the party of fiscal responsibility, spraying cash around, they conclude that there must be plenty of depth left in the Government’s reservoir. When they see a Tory Chancellor promising to bring in extra revenue by hiking corporation tax – despite the experience of cutting corporation tax rates from 2011 and seeing revenues surge – they naturally believe him. All this then heaps pressure on ministers to spend even more

It was all so unnecessary. Outside the EU, Britain could have become freer and more competitive. We had a Conservative Government with an 80-seat majority, for Heaven’s sake. We could have scrapped Brussels regulations, flattened and simplified taxes, embraced global markets, slimmed the civil service, decentralised powers and broken cartels. We could, in short, have made this the most attractive place in the world to do business.

Yes, the pandemic was an unforeseeable distraction – though, even then, some reforms could have been pursued. But nearly a year has passed since the end of the restrictions in Britain, and it is now depressingly clear that there is no plan to make use of our opportunities. After all their talk of buccaneering Britain, our leaders have shied away from almost every difficult economic decision. What a waste. What a tragic, needless waste.

Of course, Nadhim Zahawi is our current Chancellor. For how long remains to be seen. However, it will be difficult for him or his successor to roll back on Rishi’s plan. Labour won’t allow it. Either way, it will play to Labour’s advantage between now and the next general election.

Let us look at more recent developments.

When Rishi resigned as Chancellor, the press gathered outside the Sunak mews house in Kensington, London.

The Infosys heiress Mrs Sunak, in the tradition of other politicians, brought reporters mugs of tea:

One reporter expressed his appreciation:

Boris Johnson had only just stood down as Party leader when Rishi declared his candidacy to succeed him. Note that Channel 4’s poll participants still wanted Boris to stay in No. 10:

‘Ready for Rishi’ launched on July 8, complete with a video on his family’s arrival in Southampton on the southern coast of England. Rishi was born there:

Not surprisingly, Rishi’s promo did not include this clip from a 2001 documentary he participated in as a student at Winchester, one of the nation’s top public (very private) schools. This is from the BBC’s Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl, shown in March 2001.

Rishi glibly says he doesn’t know any working class people. His father looks on admiringly:

Bim Afolami MP, who is one of Rishi’s supporters, defended his friend’s quick launch. Afolami said that all the video clips were there for his team to sort through and compile in 24 hours. Afolami said that it was not unusual that Rishi arranged for his campaign website in …. 2020:

Staunch Boris loyalist Nadine Dorries told Dan Wootton on GB News that Rishi was able to launch his campaign because he wasn’t at work:

Wootton asked whether Rishi was ‘too duplicitous’ to be PM:

Ninety-two per cent of those responding to his poll said YES:

Patrick Christys added to the doubt that many have about Sunak, from the timing of his campaign launch to his Boris backstabbing:

At the launch of the candidates’ contest, the public reacted negatively to Rishi.

One person was incredulous that both Boris and Rishi received Fixed Penalty Notices for Partygate, yet Boris had to resign only for Rishi to run as his successor:

Another predicts that the Conservatives will lose the next general election. The Opposition will fire too much ammunition Rishi’s way:

This chap objects to all of the top candidates:

I will leave it there for now.

More to come tomorrow, including an analysis of Tuesday’s vote.

On Monday morning, July 18, 2022, this was where the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership stood with their fellow MPs:

A third vote took place this afternoon. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, announced the result at 8 p.m. More on the outcome in tomorrow’s post.

Weekend debates

The final five candidates participated in two debates this weekend: one on Channel 4 on Friday evening and the other on ITV on Sunday evening.

Guido Fawkes summed up the results as follows (purple emphases mine):

The polls after both Channel 4’s Friday debate and ITV’s Sunday debate will have provided major morale boosts to Team Tom and Team Rishi, though whether they change the dials for tonight’s vote – set to be released at 8 pm – remains to be seen. Certainly Liz Truss’s declared supporters haven’t relented in promoting their candidate over the weekend despite said polls saying she came across rather poorly, the moniker ‘Maybot 2.0’ already cranking into gear by rival camps.

I’ll go into more detail below.

Sky debate cancelled

A third debate was to have taken place on Sky News on Tuesday, July 19, however, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss pulled out, so, despite Penny Mordaunt and Kemi Badenoch saying they would participate, the broadcaster has cancelled it:

Guido’s post says:

Guido has confirmed Steve Swinford’s report that Rishi and Liz have decided to avoid another round of the blue-on-blue mutually assured destruction of a televised debate. Last night candidates accused each other of being socialists.

Team Truss say: “It is not the right time to be doing more debates when this part of the contest only has 358 voters. The broadcasters should stop squabbling amongst themselves. The C4 debate in particular was a massive mistake and candidates were wrong to take part in it.”

Hmm.

Channel 4 debate

It would have been great if GB News had been able to host a debate, but, since the American-style format launched here before the general election in 2010, Channel 4 has always hosted one.

News presenter Krishnan Gurumurthy was the host. I remember the years when he was reasonably objective, but, for some time now, he makes no effort to hide his political leanings. Furthermore, it’s all about him:

Conservative Home journalist thought that GB News would have been a better channel for the debate:

Krishnan put what he described as ‘floating voters’ in the studio audience, but they looked like left-wing radicals to many viewers.

His main debate theme was trust.

He asked the candidates whether they trusted Boris.

Rishi Sunak gave the most pointed answer, more about which at the end of this post:

Here’s the video of Rishi saying that he resigned because ‘enough was enough’:

Not surprisingly, Rishi’s policies were front and centre of the debate.

He looked irritated when another candidate pointed out what he or she would have done better.

Rishi looked irritated quite a lot.

Liz Truss, on the other hand, looked wooden and stiff.

It’s no wonder why neither of them wants to do a third debate.

At the end of the first round, Krishnan asked whether Boris was honest. He wanted a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer.

Three of the candidates refused to say either way. Of the other two, Kemi Badenoch said ‘Sometimes’ and Tom Tugendhat shook his head. His was the only definite ‘no’:

This is why viewers called it Krishnan’s show:

One of the more memorable exchanges of the evening was between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss over tax cuts. We saw irritable Rishi once more:

Guido has the video of Rishi disparaging Liz’s tax cut plan:

However, experts say that Liz’s plan is affordable. Guido explains why, beginning with the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR):

The OBR’s latest economic and fiscal outlook estimates that for each 1% of higher nominal GDP, public borrowing in 2024/25 will be 0.8% lower. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) forecast is that nominal GDP in 2024/25 will be 5.7% points higher than the OBR assumes. If they are right this alone generates £133 billion of net additional revenues. Against that needs to offset some likely higher spending.

The CEBR argues that

If we assume that public spending will be the same share of GDP as in the OBR projections, this increases the cost of public spending by £34 billion; higher inflation will raise indexed debt payments by about £7 billion while higher interest rates could raise debt payments by as much as £30 billion. Even allowing for all these, it is pretty clear that the OBR’s forecasting failures mean that substantial additional net revenues are likely to be generated compared with those expected. Which in turn means that net tax (after allowing for expenditure) receipts in 2024/25 will be about £60 billion more than the OBR’s base estimates.

Since these receipts will come from the effects of inflation and fiscal drag meaning that people will be paying more tax than they would have expected, it would not be unreasonable for the additional revenues to be used for tax cuts.

Economist Douglas McWilliams points out that since these receipts will come from the effects of inflation and fiscal drag meaning that people will be paying more tax than they would have expected, it would not be unreasonable for the additional revenues to be used for tax cuts. The £60 billion will cover the tax cuts being advocated by Liz Truss…

Another memorable moment was when gender identity came up:

Penny Mordaunt denied that she supports self-ID, but Kemi Badenoch said that she did. Kemi and Liz Truss worked in the department that Penny did. Kemi urged, ‘Tell the truth, Liz’, which she reluctantly did.

Guido says (emphases in red his):

Kemi insisting self ID was government policy when she took over as Minister, and had to reverse it herself…

True. It’s all in Hansard.

Guido ran a poll on who was more believable — Penny or Kemi and Liz. The latter won by a landslide:

And the other memorable moments were when Tom Tugendhat talked constantly — so it seemed — about his military service.

Of course, he gave us no actual details.

Over the weekend, social media saw many people criticising Tugendhat’s many mentions of his service to his country, prompting comparisons to characters on past British sitcoms.

Tugendhat also thanked the NHS for giving him two children. He clarified the statement, but it was a comedy gold moment.

One of Guido’s readers compared Tugendhat to Uncle Albert of Only Fools and Horses:

Cripes! Please don’t encourage Uncle Albert with any more of this military fetishism. His “defend the nation” slogan might be a bit more passable if he didn’t look like a foppish library monitor. Come to think of it, maybe the NHS really did give him 2 childrenlike just handed them over. Not sure how he’d get his leg over otherwise.

Although the debate lasted 90 minutes, time moved quickly.

Notable by their absence were questions about coronavirus lockdowns and immigration. Then again, Channel 4 supports both.

Subsequent polling showed varying approval ratings.

Opinium said that Tom Tugendhat won. Really?

But Tom Harwood of GB News said that Kemi and Rishi performed the best. I agree on Kemi but not on Rishi:

Earlier in the evening, GB News panellists on Patrick Christys’s show discussed the candidates. One said that Penny wasn’t trustworthy and that Liz was better:

The Sunday Times had more about Truss, who has a problem gaining traction among certain Conservative MPs, it would seem:

Truss is seen as the Johnson continuity candidate, supported by staunch allies of the prime minister such as Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The born-again-Brexiteer from Paisley and Leeds has been marked out as a strong contender by influential figures on the Tory right for some time. In December, shortly after his return to the Daily Mail as editor-in-chief of its parent company, Associated Newspapers, Paul Dacre tipped her as a “comer”. He wrote in The Spectator: “She is clearly a toughie, possessed of a steely self-belief, an imperviousness to the media, a healthy contempt for the male species, a seemingly genuine belief in a low-tax, small-state economy and a disarming habit of asking abrupt questions and dismissing the response as ‘bollocks’ — a tactic clearly designed to gain further elucidation.”

But Truss is in third place after the second round of parliamentary voting, with the backing of 64 MPs. Despite trying to channel Margaret Thatcher in a pussycat-bow blouse and winning the backing of Suella Braverman, who was ejected from the race on Wednesday, she seemed unsure of herself on Friday night. One observer described her as a “robot on Valium”. References to her record in government prompted derision in the “spin room” next to the studio, where the Tugendhat supporter Anne Marie Trevelyan, who succeeded Truss as trade secretary last year, openly laughed at her. Truss allies are pleased, though, that the contest is being framed as a battle between her and Sunak. The idea of a ideologically driven run-off between the former chancellor and the foreign secretary could propel her into the final two.

Liz was more relaxed on Sunday evening. She gesticulated a bit more.

ITV debate

ITV’s debate on Sunday evening was an hour long.

Julie Etchingham was an excellent moderator.

Unfortunately, she had no questions about either coronavirus lockdowns or immigration.

Tom Tugendhat banged on again about his military service, prompting this response:

The same flashpoints reappeared: tax cuts and gender identity.

Liz pointed out that Rishi as Chancellor raised taxes to their highest level in 70 years:

The subject came up again with Penny. Rishi accused her of being to the left of Labour’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn on economic policy:

Yet, Rishi did borrow for daily Government spending during the pandemic:

Here’s the gender identity clash between Kemi and Penny. Note the tweeted reply:

China was a new entry, with Rishi insisting he supported the Government’s stance:

The Mail has a brief summary of the debate:

    • Mr Sunak insisted he had never had non-dom tax status but pointed out his billionaire heiress wife was from India, and said he was ‘incredibly proud’ that his father-in-law had ‘built’ a highly successful business from nothing; 
    • Ms Truss took a backhanded swipe at Mr Sunak’s style, saying she is ‘not the slickest presenter on this stage… I’ve shown I can deliver as Foreign Secretary’;
    • All the hopefuls dismissed the idea of a snap general election when the new PM takes over, saying the focus should be on addressing the cost of living; 
    • The would-be PMs were asked to put up their hands if they backed Brexit at the referendum, with Ms Truss unable to say she did;  
    • Mr Tugendhat said all the other candidates were tainted by having served in Boris Johnson’s government; 
    • Mr Sunak issued a campaign video directly trolling Ms Truss for backing Remain in 2016, and describing him as a ‘real Brexiteer from day one’;
    • Ms Mordaunt used a BBC interview to vent fury at ‘smears’ and ‘toxic politics’ as she struggles to stop her PM bid being derailed by a backlash at her trans rights stance.

Kemi took issue with Tom’s ‘clean start’ approach, pointing out that he has never served in Government:

Serving in Government is not easy. It requires taking difficult decisions. Tom has never done that. It’s very easy for him to criticise what we’ve been doing, but we have been out there on the frontline making the case.

Here is the dialogue between Kemi and Penny on gender issues:

Ms Badenoch reiterated that she had been responsible for reversing the trans policy put in place by Ms Mordaunt as equalities minister.

‘I’m saying that when I took on the role of equalities minister, we had to change the existing Government policy which previous ministers had put in place,’ Ms Badenoch said.

‘What I’m challenging or what I challenged Penny on is what that policy was. She is saying she did not agree with it, but I don’t understand how that would be the case if she had been the previous minister. If she didn’t agree with it, why was the policy as it was?’

Ms Mordaunt replied: ‘I wasn’t the previous minister. The stuff in the papers today demonstrates what my policy was and refutes this. I think this whole thing is unedifying, and I would just say to all four of my other colleagues and candidates here, I know why this is being done.

‘But what I would say to you is that all attempts to paint me as an out-of-touch individual will fail. I’m the only person on this stage that has won and fought a Labour seat. My constituents do not elect people who are out of touch.’

Ms Badenoch responded: ‘Penny I was just telling the truth. I’m telling the truth.’

I would love to see Kemi as our next Prime Minister. She’s upfront and straightforward. She manages expectations, not promising a lot.

In the Channel 4 debate she said that increased spending in one area often means less spending in another. We cannot have everything, and the Government simply cannot provide everything for everyone.

Boris’s weekend

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson visited RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire for the flight of his life and hosted a barbeque at the Prime Minister’s weekend home, Chequers:

Guido has a report:

… the PM held a well-timed BBQ at sunny Chequers, which unlike his belated wedding party, managed to avoid being scuppered by a relentless media onslaught. According to Politico, 130 people ate burgers and sipped sparkling wine in the sun. Among the guest list were the remaining Cabinet loyalists, No. 10 aides and Dilyn the Dog. Chequers staff may be happy to see the back of him after numerous stories about Dilyn gnawing on antique furniture…

As ever, Boris delivered plenty of gags in his well written, well delivered speech to guests.

He took a gentle swipe at Neil Parish, who stood down for having looked at tractor porn twice on the parliamentary estate. Parish was replaced by a Liberal Democrat, who took his place in the Commons last week:

Boris’s tubthumping valedictory speech went down a treat, with one of the best received gags celebrating his successful fibre optic broadband rollout:

Not only has it delivered incredible choice for consumers in the way in which we consume content but farmers in tractors up and down the land can watch whatever they like at any time of day to their hearts’ content

We will never see the likes of Boris’s speeches again in Government. How I will miss them.

He spoke about his flight at RAF Coningsby and took a dig at former Chancellor Rishi Sunak:

… we flung that eager craft through footless halls of air and generally put it through its paces and after a while the wing commander said to me do you want to have a go? I said are you sure, it seems very expensive – we only have 148 of them and they cost about £75 million.

He said don’t worry, you can’t break it and I thought ‘oh well famous last words’.

I pushed the joystick right over to the right and we did an aileron roll and then I hauled the joystick right the way back and we did a loop the loop and then I tried a more complicated thing called a barrel roll and we started as they say to pull a few Gs and when I came back to consciousness I could see the sea getting closer and closer.

And I want you to know that after 3 happy years in the cockpit and after performing some pretty difficult if not astonishing feats: getting Brexit done and restoring this country’s ability to make its own laws in parliament; vaccinating the population faster than any other comparable country; and ensuring the fastest growth in the G7; and being the first European country to give the Ukrainians the vital military help they need see off Putin’s aggression; cutting neighbourhood crime by 31%; lowest unemployment for almost 50 years; gigabit broadband from 7 to 69%; I am about to hand the controls over seamlessly to someone else.
 
But whoever it is I can tell you the twin engines of this conservative government will roar on fantastic public services, dynamic market economy, each boosting the other and there could be no better example of that relationship that symbiosis between government and the private sector than the aviation industry and if you want a final example of this government’s ambition I give you not just FCAS or Jet Zero but space flight.
 
This year if all goes well we will launch the first UK satellite in history to enter space from UK soil as Newquay becomes this country’s equivalent of Cape Kennedy and I leave it to you to imagine who I would like at this stage to send into orbit but with so much to look forward to and with the UK at the leading edge of progress not just for our national security and prosperity but for the protection of the planet itself.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Downing Street is most unhappy with Rishi:

Mr Johnson is keen to stay out of the contest, but his allies are clear: if Mr Sunak continues to cast doubt on Mr Johnson’s integrity, then there will be consequences

One ally says: ‘Rishi is being extremely pious in his disapproval about the [lockdown] parties, but he was working in the same building the entire time, so he must have known about them too. And he picked up exactly the same number of fines as Boris.’ 

It is clear that resentment is still boiling over at the manner of Mr Johnson’s eviction from Downing Street, catalysed by Mr Sunak’s resignation.

The PM is understood to have grown increasingly frustrated with Mr Sunak during the past year, complaining to aides that his Chancellor would go missing in a crisis

One Government source said: ‘Sunak was constantly physically and emotionally absent from the project. He governed in a parallel universe, and would refuse to answer his phone when he was needed most.’ 

The source said that during the many crises which have dogged Mr Johnson’s time in power, he felt he could not rely on Mr Sunak for constructive advice.

A Johnson ally said: ‘If Rishi was asked about an issue in Cabinet, usually as either the very first or the very last person he turned to, Rishi would just say, “Oh you don’t need to hear from me” – and would often turn his back as he said it, probably unconsciously. 

And he was conspicuously absent from the media when the s*** hit the fan. He was the submarine Chancellor.’ 

Despite Mr Johnson’s vow not to interfere in the contest, his closest supporters have been critical of Mr Sunak. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who called Mr Sunak ‘the Socialist Chancellor’, and Nadine Dorries have both publicly backed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the race.

It has also been claimed that Mr Johnson would be open to Ms Mordaunt succeeding him if it meant that Mr Sunak did not win the leadership, with the Prime Minister voicing concerns that Mr Sunak would go soft on Vladimir Putin and ease sanctions on Russia

The saga continues tomorrow.

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