IDS Slams Rishi Words on China, Kearns More Favourable

Iain Duncan Smith has slammed Rishi Sunak for using his G20 visit to water down Liz’s hardline position on China. Speaking to the travelling press pack, Rishi labelled China a “systematic threat” before correcting himself to “systematic challenge”. He did go on, however, to admit it is the “biggest state-based threat to our economic security”. This marks a lowering of the temperature compared to Truss’s plan to elevate China’s formal status to ‘threat’…

Rishi also refused to follow in Liz’s wake on the issue of sending arms to Taiwan. His predecessor vowed she would do so, with Rishi now promising to “consider all these things as part of the refresh of the integrated review.” Not a refusal, just less hawkish language.

China-hawk-in-chief Iain Duncan Smith isn’t happy. He told Politico:

“What more evidence does [Sunak] need that they are threatening our very values and the way we live our lives?”

“We’ve seen the assault in Manchester and ad hoc Chinese police stations trying to coerce Chinese citizens back into China by bullying them and threatening them.”

“This is a cop-out. The saddest part of this is that President Xi Jinping will see this about-turn as a sign of weakness by the PM.”

Newly-elected Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns is less upset, however, arguing that redesignating China’s threat status was merely a Truss PR stunt that would have changed little.

“Changing the designation of China would have rendered us an outlier amongst our Five Eyes partners and risked distraction from developing a more strategic approach.”

Meanwhile the main news overnight is that No. 10 released a photo of Rishi glaring at Lavrov. Very intimidating…

mdi-timer 15 November 2022 @ 08:49 15 Nov 2022 @ 08:49 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
IDS: We Haven’t Even Started Investigating Chinese Police Stations on British Soil

Everyone likes Tom Tugendhat but it’s really not necessary for him to like everyone back. How many times did he “absolutely agree” and render “enormous thanks”? He is the new Security minister and this was his first appearance at the despatch box but there was no need for such winsomeness. He was forgiven the use of the term “front-footing” as some kind of verb – he is young and uses fashionable language (LOL). But did he really refer to “our excellent police forces”? With a straight face? A rising mist surrounded him: it was political capital evaporating.

He had two consecutive outings today, neither of them strictly necessary. The first was to answer an Urgent Question posed by the new chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, a stately galleon at sea under the name of Alicia Kearns.

In her early 30s, she defeated more than one Tory grandee in the election to her position – one of them being Iain Duncan Smith. This still-youthful elder statesman usually sits in front of his rival on these occasions, and asks sharp, well-phrased questions in his carrying voice. Among his supporters, he will be creating the impression that he was robbed, that the election was stolen, that he is the rightful chair.

Read More

mdi-timer 1 November 2022 @ 16:30 1 Nov 2022 @ 16:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
NEW: Richard Graham is Sixth Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Candidate

Guido can reveal a sixth Tory MP is putting their hat in the ring to chair the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, following the vacancy created by Tom Tugendhat’s promotion. Richard Graham, the MP for Gloucester, is joining Liam Fox, IDS, Alicia Kearns, Henry Smith and John Baron in the race – albeit at a significantly later starting date than his five competitors.

Richard Graham is campaigning on four points, the third of which is certain to raise eyebrows among Tory MPs:

  1. This role is about seeking truths through evidence to influence Parliament and policy. Not grandstanding or ideological campaigning.
  2. We should make the most of our development funding and other soft power examples like the Commonwealth, Chevening scholarships and the British Council
  3. We should explore what the mooted European Partnership offers and ways to resolve the NI conundrum
  4. Being sanctioned by Russia and having a visa denied by China (as I have both) are reasons to deepen, not cut off, engagement

A source close to one of the candidates revealed lots of SNP MPs are set to back Alicia Kearns, and no doubt many Labour MPs will also be putting her as first preference, meaning it’s likely she will be in the final two with either IDS or Liam Fox. Nominations close tomorrow and the vote’s on Wednesday…

mdi-timer 10 October 2022 @ 13:51 10 Oct 2022 @ 13:51 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Alicia Kearns Takes £5,349 from Human Rights-Abusing Bahraini Government

With the mourning period now well and truly over, Alicia Kearns’ campaign to become chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is in full swing. Last week she made her case for the gig in the Times, claiming:

“The decisions we take now, from investment and supply chains, to defending our multilaterals and the rule of law, and upholding human rights […] matter.”

All well and good, although it does beg the question of why this donation appears in her register of interests:

£5,349 for an all expenses paid trip, courtesy of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here’s how Human Rights Watch described that same Kingdom of Bahrain in 2021:

“The human rights situation in Bahrain did not improve in 2020 […] Authorities arrested, prosecuted, and harassed human rights defenders, journalists, opposition leaders, and defense lawyers, including for their social media activity. All independent Bahraini media have been banned since 2017 from operating in the country and all opposition groups dissolved.”

At least they picked up the meal tab…

mdi-timer 27 September 2022 @ 14:48 27 Sep 2022 @ 14:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Alicia Kearns Campaigning for Foreign Affairs Committee Chair

While most politicking has been put on pause for the moment, it seems life goes on for some career-hungry MPs. The elevation of Tom Tugendhat to Security Minister means a prize vacancy as chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is up for grabs; immediately Tory grandees Liam Fox and IDS announced they’d be putting themselves forward. Guido understands their campaigns have been paused in light of the Queen’s death…

The underdog in the race is Alicia Kearns, a 2019 vintage Tory MP, who’s shown a keen interest in foreign affairs since entering parliament three years ago, as well as serving on the committee for the past two years. Unlike IDS and Fox, however, Alicia can’t afford to campaign on name recognition alone. Today in PCH according to a co-conspirator she was holding court lobbying passing MPs, Guido’s co-conspirator spotted Damian Hinds and Daniel Kawczynski getting their ears bent, despite the campaign halt while we mourn Her Majesty. No rest for the wicked…

mdi-timer 12 September 2022 @ 16:56 12 Sep 2022 @ 16:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Rumours Swirl by Day in Parliament and at Night in the Carlton Club

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:

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.

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:

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…

mdi-timer 18 January 2022 @ 22:30 18 Jan 2022 @ 22:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments