Westminster is a funny place where time moves at different paces; yesterday we were hearing pressure had cooled off on the PM, tonight we could be hours away from Brady declaring a confidence vote. Lobby hacks have, this afternoon, given breathless reports of discontented MPs pushing it close to hitting the letter threshold for a leadership contest. Much of this evening’s speculation was sparked by a tweet from Laura Kuenssberg:
Hear a group of 2019 Tory MPs had a meeting this lunch time to talk about the ongoing mess - been dubbed the ‘pork pie plot’ by an irritated loyal minister as one of those there said to be the MP for Melton— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) January 18, 2022
The MP for Melton being Alicia Kearns, a leading 2019 MP often touted for a future ministerial career. Guido’s since heard a good 30-or-so MPs attended the so-called ‘Melton coup’ meeting, however it wasn’t the first and Kearns isn’t a key organiser, her office merely hosted today’s meeting. A meeting also took place last night, apparently hosted by Dorset MP Chris Loder who recently wrote “I’m embarrassed by Downing Street party revelations”. Funnily enough he’s managed to avoid similar briefings against him…
Several MPs have reckon the initial briefing to Kuenssberg of coming from the Whips’ office. One MP accused Mark Spencer himself of being the source of the briefing, in an attempt to dissuade further 2019 backbenchers from joining the rebellion. One MP told Guido the whips are a ####### disgrace…
As well as the briefings against Kearns, Guido hears another 2019er involved in the talks has this evening been approached by a paper claiming No. 10 has since pointed the finger of blame at them. Newsnight’s Nic Watt claims 2019ers are under siege from whips…
In other news, one MP informed Guido that multiple PPSs met with Dan Rosenfield in PCH this afternoon, where at one meeting of six they told him point-blank that there needed to be mass sackings from No. 10, and that this is the worst administration they’d seen in recent political memory.
Over at the Carlton Club tonight Will Wragg was holding court tonight with a small number of the 109 Group of MPs.
Group of 109 MPs in the Carlton Club with Will Wragg holding court. Obviously plotting.— Eye Spy MP (@eyespymp) January 18, 2022
This confused many on Twitter who thought a mob of 109 MPs had gathered with pitchforks in St James. Matters got more confusing when Telegraph legend Chris Hope tweeted:
LATEST Chaos at the Carlton Club tonight. Boris Johnson had a drink with Conor Burns.— Christopher Hope📝 (@christopherhope) January 18, 2022
Nadine Dorries was addressing an Onward dinner.
Four 1922 members were having supper.
The Press arrived believing a plot was under way so everyone left by the backdoor. One MP: "It is a farce."
Nadine Dorries was characteristically blunt “Chris, this is just hysterical unsubstantiated nonsense. Journalists need to calm down. Neither the PM or Conor Burns were anywhere near the Carlton Club tonight. However, I was, as the guest speaker at a dinner accompanied by a SPAD. Seriously, go and lie down.” Too much cheese and wine?
Where this all leads, that’s for tomorrow to decide…