Hearing backroom speculation last week when former Shadow Cabinet member Peter Ainsworth announced his resignation from the green benches. A pre-emptive scandal stopper? Or was did he realise just realise his face didn’t fit and he might as well go load his pockets in the real world? Or was it more cynical than that?
Yesterday John Maples, another Tory big wig, Deputy Party Chairman no less, announced his desire to step down at the next election. His expenses weren’t great – Guido is pretty sure Maples private members club is not his main home, but both he and Ainsworth would easily be returned to Westminster in May. Neither made any noise about stepping down until the announcements came out of the blue. Interestingly CCHQ amended the rules on candidate selection to come into force on the January 1. After that date Team Dave have full control over candidate selection and can pop any on-message box-ticker wherever a safe seat comes up. Guido hears there are more gray haired Tories keen to step down but yet to announce. Has a deal been done with MPs stepping down that they would make the announcement in the new year… Arise Lords Maples and Ainsworth?
UPDATE : ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie doesn’t think it true. Guido reckons there is a good chance there will be more.