As Guido first revealed, hereditary Iceland boss and former Tory donor Richard Walker has now quit the party ahead of his defection to Labour at their party conference next week – having repeatedly failed to get selected as a Tory candidate. Last night in The Times he accused the Conservatives of “flip-flopping” on big policies, and this morning he laments in The Observer how “badly out of touch” they’ve become since the 2019 election. These were not concerns he appeared to have just over four months ago: Guido can reveal he sent Rishi Sunak a personal letter begging to be put on the Conservative candidates’ list…
Guido has obtained the full letter, in which Walker spends three pages complaining about his failure to get selected and boasting about his charity efforts. He closes by asking Rishi to personally lift his deferment and install him as the Tory candidate Chester South & Eddisbury…
“As you will already be aware, it is my most fervent wish that I succeed in becoming an approved Conservative Party Candidate, and I have—over the last two years—given my all to earning that privilege… Unfortunately, I am subject to a deferment notice, imposed by the Committee on Candidates… I have striven to ensure that I anything I say in the public arena fully supports HM Government and Conservative Party policy… I am left with no other choice but to appeal to you directly to both lift this deferment and allow me to put myself forward to represent both the Conservative Party and my community in Chester South & Eddisbury.”
That letter was sent at the end of May. Once it was clear the plea had failed, Walker quit, and is now moaning in The Observer about how terrible the Tories have become. Out in the cold…
Read the full letter below:
Dear Prime Minister, Please forgive me for approaching you directly on a personal matter. However, you will appreciate that I would only do so if I had first exhausted other avenues.
As you will already be aware, it is my most fervent wish that I succeed in becoming an approved Conservative Party Candidate, and I have—over the last two years—given my all to earning that privilege. I have done everything the Party’s Candidates’ requested of me, and more: be that campaigning; supporting the Party in the media; social action and charitable work, and keeping my distance from any policy area or organisation that may be at odds with the Party’s position.
Unfortunately, I am subject to a deferment notice, imposed by the Committee on Candidates. Any potential candidate in my position would seek to establish why such a deferment has remained in place, and not least so that they could take constructive action to assuage any concerns that the Party might harbour.
I have done just that—transparently and tactfully—since my return to the UK at the weekend from a successful £1 million charity fundraising ascent of Everest. However, I have been entirely unable to establish by asking the relevant Party representatives how I have failed to meet the standards required of an approved Conservative Party Parliamentary Candidate or—if it is now for a different, hitherto undisclosed reason—why it is that I am still subject to a deferment.
The only guess presented to me regards my previous chairmanship of Surfers Against Sewage—an organisation I resigned from due to its increased politicisation, with which I disagreed. I have never knowingly passed any comment publicly about water quality, and there seems to be an unfortunate and mistaken presumption to the contrary by unnamed decision-makers.
As mentioned above, I have striven to ensure that I anything I say in the public arena fully supports HM Government and Conservative Party policy: the CCHQ press office need only review their media monitoring reports of Question Time, Peston, and my appearances on similar programmes.
These appearances are made in my capacity as Executive Chairman of a supermarket with over 1,000 branches-many in the ‘red wall’ area—and almost 30,000 employees. In short, they are part of my job—one which, along with my charitable endeavours, would bring valuable, formative experience to the Parliamentary Party and the representation of the people. The new constituency of Chester South & Eddisbury—where I have lived all my life—will shortly be selecting its candidate for the next General Election, and I wish to be able to apply for it.
I can think of no greater honour than to stand for Party I support in the seat of my own upbringing—and that of my young family. As no Party official or senior volunteer can present any sincere, genuine, and objective reason as to why my candidacy should continue to be barred—other, potentially, than a disparaging and inaccurate presumption that I am at odds with the Party’s policy on water quality, when the opposite is true—I am left with no other choice but to appeal to you directly to both lift this deferment and allow me to put myself forward to represent both the Conservative Party and my community in Chester South & Eddisbury.
I would be glad to meet with you in person—or to speak on the telephone—should you wish to discuss this further, and I look forward to hearing from you.