It’s all kicking off at the election of the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia this afternoon. Tory John Randall has beaten Labour’s Chris Bryant after a huge scrum at the ballot box. Now Bryant’s backers are claiming the Tories tried to stitch up the vote. Labour MP Stephen Doughty tells Guido:
“It was chaotic. The room was absolutely packed with a line out of the door when Claire Perry starting saying “I’m shutting the door, I’m locking the door.” She was standing in front of the door and blocking people from going in. There were a lot of Tory whips there. I asked her on what authority she was doing it – the door was bulging. Eventually she gave up.”
Defeated Bryant described it as a “positively Russian style election” and shadow foreign affairs minister Ian Lucas claims “Tory Cabinet Ministers [were] trying to stop Chris Bryant from being Chair of APPG on Russia”. A coup worthy of Khrushchev’s fall from the Politburo?
UPDATE: A Randall supporter insists it was “just a major whipping organisation by some Tory backbenchers.”