McVey: Ex-MI6 Boss Shocked at UK’s Covid Freedom Sacrifice

The relatively new “Common Sense” group of Tory MPs had a joint reception with Esther McVey’s Blue Collar Conservative group at conference last night, in a room so small, hot and cramped that if attendees didn’t have Covid beforehand they almost certainly will now. Partygoers were treated to a panoply of speeches, from the Common Sense chair and vice-chair Sir John Hayes and Tom Hunt, Express Editor Gary Jones, Attorney General Suella Braverman and Esther McVey herself. Thankfully Guido had positioned himself by the bar before the procession of common sense champions began their speaking relay race…

Among the usual no-nonsense, common-sense platitudes, Esther pricked the room’s ears when name-dropping a recent meeting she’d had with the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. She claims the ex-spook said he was “shocked” how easily in the last 18 months we gave up our freedom.

“He said he was shocked, and he lived behind the iron curtain in the cold war and he said they had not given up the freedoms that we had given up. So we must fight to get our party back on track”

McVey didn’t reveal the original reason for her meeting with Sir Richard – discussing the possibility of the first female Bond Guido wonders?

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Tory MP “Common Sense Group” Begin ERG-Style Relaunch

The lesser-known “Common Sense Group” of Tory MPs led by Sir John Hayes – set up in wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests to “champion cultural conservatism” – has begun an ERG-inspired relaunch, beginning with the hiring of a new parliamentary assistant/adviser for the group’s “strategy and policy”. It has some of the old Cornerstone Group (“flag, faith and family”) in it – though we haven’t heard from that group for years…

Last November it was reported the group was 59 MPs and seven Lords-strong, and there’s now some talk of the membership list going public at some point. While the job advert says the group’s researcher will be responsible for “Writing letters, briefings and articles for group members,” Guido hears the position’s been floated for many months now. Will the group finally get organised enough to hold Boris’s feet to the culture war fire?

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John Hayes Receives Unexpected Knighthood

Veteran right wing Brexiteer has unexpectedly been doled out a knighthood from Number 10. By miraculous coincidence, he didn’t send Graham Brady a letter, and he hasn’t said he’ll vote against May’s Brexit deal, he is said to have also lobbied colleagues not to write letters. Cynics will note that he collected his gong well before the next honours list came round. Hayes knows Theresa May might not be around then so got his payment upfront…

This out of the blue knighthood comes before Parliament’s ‘meaningful vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement, perhaps pour encourager les autresIs the 2010 Bribery Act yet another piece of Cameron’s legacy that May is determined to get rid of?

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New Transport PPS “Strongly Opposed” to HS2

VICTORIA PRENTIS

HS2 may have hit another rail bump. The new Transport PPS, Victoria Prentis, is “strongly opposed” to building the high-speed rail link. Prentis, whose picturesque rural constituency of Banbury would see HS2 run through its eastern edge, says on her website:

“While I recognise the importance of investment in our transport network, I am strongly opposed to the building of HS2. I will continue to oppose it in principle, as I do not think it represents value for money for our taxpayers, and that the environmental costs are too high.”

Prentis, who is neighbouring MP to both David Cameron and Andrea Leadsom, will be serving under John Hayes, who has previously spoken against holding a referendum for locals to decide on HS2. This is going to be a tough square to circle…

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