Tory Seat Battles: Workington Versus Wokeington

After CCHQ forced all Tory MPs to declare whether they intend to stand at the next election, the question now turns to; firstly whether their local association want them and secondly dealing with the 2023 boundary review. Guido’s already covered the former, with the ongoing row up in Shrewsbury about Daniel Kawczynski’s reselection; now for the latter – boundary review rows.

Up in the top corner of England, Cumbria is set to be butchered by the review. The seat tally for the county is being lowered from six to five, involving the creation of a new Penrith and Solway constituency. The move is pitting Penrith and the Border MP Neil Hudson against Workington MP Mark Jenkinson. In many ways a metaphor for the battle over the soul of the Tory party…

Mark Jenkinson is firmly red wall. The 2019 election was constantly described as a fight for ‘Workington Man’, a northern male over the age of 45 without a university degree, who enjoys rugby league, and who had previously supported Labour but voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. Jenkinson won these voters over, and firmly backed Boris in No. 10 including his attempted comeback after Liz Truss’s resignation.

Neil Hudson on the other hand is not particularly favoured by many of his colleagues. In 2021 the wet – who sources suggest has occasionally mentioned he was once a vet – was called a ‘Judas’ by colleagues after pocketing hundreds for a fake news op-ed that led to Tory MPs being inundated with hate mail from animal welfare groups. In 2022 he tried standing for chairman of the DEFRA Select Committee, and was endorsed by hard-left Labour MPs who praised him for working “against his Conservative colleagues”. He called for Boris to resign last summer…

Hudson tells his local paper that he firmly believes he is the “right choice” to inherit the new seat, despite the fact two-thirds of Mark Jenkinson’s Workington seat is going into the new Penrith and Solway constituency – versus just 37% of Neil Hudson’s current Penrith and the Border seat. This should be a fun one to watch…

mdi-timer 17 January 2023 @ 11:12 17 Jan 2023 @ 11:12 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Three Tory MPs Slam Bryant’s Fake Bullying News

Further to Guido’s report this morning, three Tory MPs asked point of orders in the chamber this afternoon, all directed at the fake claims made by Chris Bryant on the night of the 19th October.

Former whip Mark Jenkinson, who was interviewed about the supposed fracas, accused Labour MPs of haranguing Tory MPs off the back of Bryant’s rule-breaking photo posted to Twitter.

Brendan Clarke-Smith asked for clarification on such photography rules; and Chris Clarkson asked whether the Deputy Speaker would call for Bryant to return to the chamber to correct the record – as Guido suggest he should, to avoid charges of hypocrisy.

Bryant was apparently too busy to turn up. Guido’s sure we’ll hear from him at some point. He is not a man to suffer in silence…

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Workington Man Abandons Northern Research Group

Last Friday there were more than a few miffed Northern MPs willing to give spicy anonymous Lobby-terms quotes to hacks, after the PM pulled out of his Northern Research Group conference appearance to hop on a secret flight to Ukraine. Despite ministers, backbenchers and Jake Berry himself defending Boris’s decision, one ‘senior NRG figure’ told the press the MP had shown “total contempt” for them, after backing him in the leadership vote. Another NRG source told The Telegraph’s Chopper “Sadly today’s events show the PM has no commitment to levelling up, his voters, or the North of England”:

Unfortunately for the group, these anonymous briefings were a step too far for Mark Jenkinson, the Workington MP after whom the crucial 2019 voters Boris had to win – ‘Workington Man’ – are named. Guido’s now seen screenshots of the NRG Whatsapp group aftermath that Friday afternoon, which involved Jenkinson proclaiming “I always considered this group to contain fewer c***s than others. Goes to show you never can tell.” Promptly exiting the chat…

Such a happy family…

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NEW: Councillor Jailed After Sending Threats to Own MP

In a week dominated by politicians trying to get the public to treat them more kindly, a councillor in Cumbria has just been jailed for sending threats to his own Tory MP and council leader. Peter Little will spend 18 weeks behind bars for abusing Workington MP Mark Jenkinson, including an email reading:

“You and that MP are f***ed”

Passing the sentence, judge Mark Hadfield referred to the death of Sir David Amess, saying “any threat directed towards a public servant is always treated very seriously by the court.” The abuse aimed at Mark Jenkinson was the final straw for the councillor, who had already been on a suspended prison sentence after being convicted in August for a number of public order offences. As he was led away to the cells, the councillor was heard shouting “pigs!” at the police escorting him…

mdi-timer 19 October 2021 @ 13:20 19 Oct 2021 @ 13:20 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Six Tory Parliamentarians Announce Party Conference Boycott over Vaccine Passports

Six Tory parliamentarians have now gone public with a commitment to actively boycott Tory conference in October if, as reported, vaccine passports are an entry requirement. Mark Jenkinson was first out of the gates, followed by Steve Baker. Lady Helena Morrissey came shortly after. Now Guido learns Bolton West MP Chris Green is joining them:

“I would love to go to Party Conference because it is in Manchester, down the road from my constituency and a great chance to champion levelling up, but I will not be attending in person or online.”

As is Peter Bone:

“I can confirm that I won’t be attending the party conference if we have to have a vaccinee passport to attend.”

Andrew Bridgen has also told Guido he will add his name to the list of boycotters in the event of mandatory vaccine passports.

Sir Charles Walker previously said he wouldn’t get the vaccine due to a phobia of needles, and confirmed to Guido this afternoon he remains unvaccinated and still “waiting for nasal vaccine”, thereby depriving conference of their biggest grandee thus far. It’s a real bind for Boris – lose support amongst party ideologues or get mauled by the press…

UPDATE: Milling wobbles, texts Tory MPs

Follow Guido’s rolling updated list below:

  • Mark Jenkinson, Workington
  • Steve Baker, Wycombe
  • Helena Morrissey, Lords
  • Chris Green, Bolton West
  • Peter Bone, Wellingborough
  • Andrew Bridgen, North East Leicestershire
  • Craig Mackinlay, South Thanet
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“Shock” at Jenrick Coal Mine Inquiry Announcement

An MP has told Guido how he and his colleagues were given no forewarning by Robert Jenrick before he announced his department was going to intervene in the Cumbria coal mine project and order a fresh public inquiry. The intervention is seen by red wall MPs as the government bowing to niche, interest group public pressure, with Workington MP Mark Jenkinson last night telling the Tory MP WhatsApp group the Secretary of State has “bowed to climate terrorists”. Whatever happened to not negotiating with terrorists…

The cancellation of the project could see a loss of £165 million of private investment into the area; and adding to the political embarrassment of the intervention, Boris’s own PPS Trudy Harrison was set to be the coal mine’s constituency MP. It now appears Harrison doesn’t intend to quit as the PM’s PPS…

Away from the immediate reaction, Mark Jenkinson now tells Guido the inquiry may provide one upside insofar as the debate will now be taken away from the fraught, partisan one seen so far. The now-scuppered timing of the massive project may pull the rug from underneath the project given its private investment funding. Jenkinson also told Guido of his “shock” hearing the announcement, as he got no prior warning about the intervention, and given the process is now quasi-judicial it’ll be very difficult for him and his colleagues to now level questions at Jenrick. Not least “does the government think it’s more environmental to import coal from China rather than mining it here?”

The government needs to decide if Britain is going to be a high-value manufacturing nation or not, the pandemic showed the dangers of having little or no manufacturing capability in strategic areas. De-carbonising the economy will kill energy intensive industries dead to the benefit of China and Asia. This is pretty disastrous for the government’s promised leveling up agenda, with Jenkinson’s inbox overwhelmingly pro-mine, as well as his Facebook. At the moment he doesn’t believe this is just the government laying the groundwork to eventually u-turn and cancel the project, though Guido smells a rat…

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