Callanan Speaks: “I’m Off to Push on Some Doors”

Martin Callanan has stoked speculation about his chances of being the next EU Commissioner. Writing his last piece for ConHome as leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Callanan makes his pitch:

“Realistically, governing parties do badly at elections. People are not fully feeling the effects of the economic recovery in their pockets and wage packets. Against that backdrop, to almost beat the main opposition party is a fantastic achievement. In 1999, we won the European elections by a landslide. We all know what happened in 2001. This result was not good for Labour. And for the Liberal Democrats, they proved that they are the Party of ‘IN’ – IN deep s**t…

This might sound odd and even quite concerning, but decisions in the European Parliament are rarely made in the debating chamber, or even in the plenary votes. These days, they are usually made in what’s known as a trilogue – when a selection of MEPs, EU governments and the Commission come together to negotiate on details of specific laws. If you want to defend your interests – that is where it is done. Frankly, we are going to have to work even harder now that our numbers are depleted…

But for me, as they say, one door closes and another opens – so I’m off to push on some doors to see what’s next.”

Could the door be that of the EU Commission…

May Refuses to Be Drawn on Tory Newark Chances

Guido has paid a visit to Newark today to see how the Tory-UKIP bunfight is progressing. The Tory machine is out in force, blue rosetted door knockers are everywhere while the Ukippers dwindle around the town centre as only they do best. Theresa May was expertly dull in her Q&A with the travelling press pack, which is perhaps fitting giving how dull the posh boy Tory candidate Robert Jenrick is. May refused to be drawn when Guido asked her about the consequences of defeat:

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They may be coy publicly, but in private the Tories are confident their campaign juggernaut cannot be stopped and their vote will hold up. Though the wandering pack of ginger Scottish Ukippers are taking the market square by force.

Freeeeeeedooommm!

How Tories Stop Slacker MPs From Giving Whips the Slip

Up at the Tory base in Newark, James Landale bring us picture evidence of the roll of honour for campaigning MPs. As Guido revealed in the Sun at the weekend, MPs groaned when told by Deputy Chief Whip Greg Hands that they would have to sign in to prove they had actually turned up to pound the pavements. Crafty slackers slipping off home immediately after signing their names on the whiteboard were then told they would be required to sign in both in the morning and the afternoon. Now they have to jot down their exact arrival and departure times for all to see. Three visits is the minimum expected of them, as you can see by Chris Skidmore’s keenness to show his commitment in the picture above. Hands is emailing out lists of MPs in order of appearances to name and shame the skivers…

Exclusive: Osborne Reveals UKIP Crisis Summit at Chequers

George Osborne has revealed that the Tories held a crisis summit at Chequers this morning on how to deal with the UKIP threat. Both government and party sources refuse to discuss attendees or indeed what was on the agenda. Leaving a breakfast event hosted at No.11 for alumni of Magdalen College, Oxford, the Chancellor explained his premature exit by telling attendees he was taking the unusual step of going to the PM’s official countryside residence in the middle of the week for the meeting. An important pit stop on the way to Newark…

Callanan Does Not Rule Out EU Commissioner Bid

Martin Callanan, Former Tory MEP and grassroot favourite to be Britain’s next EU commissioner, is being extremely tight lipped about the gig. When Guido asked if he was interested in the job he said “I’m sure you’ll understand but I can’t say anything about it. I cannot comment about this.”

We’ll take that as a yes then.

People’s Army Pledge 1,000 Troops on the Ground in Newark

“The people’s army is coming”, a senior commander tells Guido this morning. On the back of the Euro Elections, UKIP are turning their attention to Newark and boldly claim they will have 1,000 troops on the ground. Guido understands that every single newly elected MEP is under strict instructions not to head to Brussels until after the vote next Thursday, and every single office holder at every level in the party is expected to invade the Notthinghamshire town. While UKIP sources are pouring cold water on their chances of outright victory, they are relishing “a very close run” and wiping out most of the 16,000 Tory majority: “They won’t be able to send the entire cabinet to the same seat every day in the general election.”

Callanan for Commissioner

The saddest bit of news for the Tories from Euro results night was Martin Callanan losing his seat. The chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists group is getting a lot of deserved support today. Paul Goodman makes the suggestion that he should be Dave’s choice for EU Commissioner. His case is a convincing one:

“He was a driving force behind making the ECR group work.  He knows how the Parliament and the Commission work.  Downing Street and Conservative MPs know him.  His Euro-sceptic views are long-standing, deeply-felt and real.  His centre of gravity on Britain’s membership is roughly the party’s centre of gravity.  Yes, he has just lost a Euro-election.  But he won three others.  One of our present commissioners, bless her, has never stood for election at all.”

James Kirkup agrees:

“Mr Callanan was a Conservative MEP and the leader of the Tory group in the Parliament until this week when he lost his seat. He’s well respected in Brussels and popular with party colleagues: just the balance needed to do the job as Mr Cameron hopes to undertake his great renegotiation. And he’s a very decent, modest man, as shown by his various interviews following his defeat. Really, Mr Cameron could do a lot worse than Callanan for Commissioner.”

Callanan is a good man, whose defeat was the price of UKIP splitting the vote on the right. The PM will struggle to find a better choice…

Knives Out for Miliband Round Up of Pre-Results Night Infighting

The Shadow Cabinet are sharpening their knives. One Shadow minister tells the Sindy: “Miliband has got to go. He’s damaged goods, he’s not a Prime Minister,” helpfully adding that “he’s odd-looking and is a bit weird”. Andrew Rawnsley quotes a Shadow Cabinet minister’s verdict that: “the campaign made it all about Ed. That was not sensible.” Another admits in the Sunday Telegraph: “there are people in the country who quite regularly say he is a problem”. A view shared by another Labour MP: “I did not meet a single voter who said anything positive about Ed Miliband out of all the hundreds whose door I knocked on”. Then to top it all oil painting muse Diane Abbott went on the Sunday Politics to lay into her leader’s staff and note that “no-one is going to confuse Ed Miliband with George Clooney any time soon”. Which is just mean.

Tory discipline is holding more steady but that didn’t stop David Davis telling Guido in the Sun on Sunday that Tory HQ are “cheeky little sh*ts”. A Tory insider responds that DD is a “selfish” loser. Basher adds in the Sunday Times his view that “it is time for the government to press the reset button on its European policy” and bring forward the referendum to 2016. Mark Reckless is a bit jumpy in the MoS and Adam Afriyie is off on one again, though the one interesting intervention is from Jackie Doyle Price, who said on Sky News that “there’s definitely a problem with the perception [of Cameron as an out of touch old Etonion]”. That said almost all the Tory jitters are from the awkward squad backbenchers, while Miliband’s snipers are in the Shadow Cabinet…

Bad Night for Pervs

Self-confessed teen fondler Mike Hancock has lost the Portsmouth council seat he has held for 43 years to UKIP. In fact Handycock came third, picking up just 628 votes. UKIP’s winning candidate Julie Swan twists the knife:

“It’s about time people were represented by a normal human being and someone who works for a living.”

Even worse news for the LibDems in Kingston, where they lost control of the council to the Tories.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Leading Rebel Tory MPs Kick Back at UKIP Pact

Though Carswell, Bone, Jenkin and Rees Mogg broke cover last night to call for a UKIP pact, Tory high command seem pretty relaxed about it all. Grant Shapps even just took the mick out of Rees Mogg on live TV, and the fact it is four particularly suspect members of the usual suspects seems to have dampened the noise.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Shapps Doesn’t Know the Name of Swindon Tory Leader

Julia Hartley-Brewer asking the only question that matters on LBC:

At least he was honest about it…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Top Tory Attacks Cameron Euro Strategy

The awkward squad are getting their verdict – and attack lines – in early on the Tory European campaign. David Davis lambasted the coordinated CCHQ attacks on UKIP last night, telling Guido that they have only driven more voters to UKIP:

“The only way to fight UKIP is to occupy their ground.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

All Grown Up: Tory MP Recreates Baywatch Pose 15 Years On

charlotte

As a 20 year old lifeguard Charlotte Leslie set hearts racing on the beaches of Cornwall in her red swimming costume. Fifteen years later the Tory MP has recreated her Baywatch pose to raise awareness for the lifesavers who protect our coasts.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Another Government Telly Hire

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has shunned the luvvies and hired a telly person to be his media Special Adviser. Salma Shah, a former producer on The Wright Stuff, 10 o’Clock Live and latterly at the BBC, is the latest in a line of TV producers brought in by top Tories to guard their image, instead of the usual political insiders.  […]

+ READ MORE +

Friends of Gove: “Dom is #Winning”Cummings Threatens Downing Street With More Leaks

Do we get the impression that the Secretary of State for Education might not be taking his peace accord with the LibDems entirely seriously?

Exhibit A) The joint Times this morning with David Laws, written at the insistence of Clegg:

“…you might expect the two of us to be crouched under our desks like the last survivors in a Bruce Willis movie, only popping out occasionally to blast each other with shotguns.But the reality of politics — even coalition politics — is a lot more prosaic than some like to suggest.”

Guido is guessing Gove got to choose the by-line picture too.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Another Old Etonian in Another Top Job Rory Stewart New Defence Select Committee Chair

479 votes cast were cast, there was one spoilt ballot paper. After 7 stages of counting, old Etonian Rory Stewart was elected chair with 226 votes, beating the Speaker’s nark Julian Lewis on 212. Bercow defeat…

UPDATE: The full voting.

Basically Julian Lewis won really.[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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