Confirmed: Andrew Bowie to Stand Down as Tory Vice Chair

While some are reporting tonight that Tory Vice Chair Andrew Bowie has resigned from his role, Guido understands he has not yet left the position, however he intends to step back from the job shortly to focus on his constituency work. He will not leave the role until a replacement is found. Disappointingly it sounds less dramatic than initial reports made out…

mdi-timer 9 November 2021 @ 21:10 9 Nov 2021 @ 21:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Furious Tory MPs Still Waiting on Apology

Safe to say Tory MPs haven’t been this angry or depressed about the party’s decision making and leadership for a long time. The mood in parliament today is closer to that of a victim’s refuge than the home of democracy. One MP ranted to Guido, with agreement from another, that a 1922 Committee meeting should have been called for tonight with someone senior – Boris, Mark Spencer or Rees-Mogg – turning up to give a grovelling apology. When asked during a pool interview this morning if he’d apologise for the Paterson debacle, Boris merely said “I don’t think there is much more to be said about that particular case.” 

One MP grumbled that the only communication they’ve had from their whip was a demand to be in parliament today for a three line whip, and nothing by way of asking how they were coping with last week’s fall-out, nor how they were now feeling – despite pastoral care supposedly being a primary function of the government’s whipping operation in 2021. One MP noted how a year ago their whip had started calling them on a Saturday afternoon to catch up and ask how they were, however that’s long since stopped. Eyebrows were further raised when the MP vote breakdown on the Paterson motion came out, and three whips hadn’t voted. One MP claimed to Guido that theirs had been spotted at the Red Lion during the division. 

Meanwhile the anger isn’t just aimed at the whips. Over in the Tory “One Nation” WhatsApp chat group Tobias Ellwood shared his Sun op-ed, entitled “A PM who takes the Mother of Parliaments for granted will achieve nothing”. Presumably Ellwood was hoping for support, however one minister fired back:

“Tobias – I have just read your article. It is self centered [sic], unhelpful and without even a decent argument for reform.”

Another MP said most of the WhatsApp group wanted Tobias to “shut the f**k up”. Happy families…

mdi-timer 8 November 2021 @ 16:03 8 Nov 2021 @ 16:03 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
LibDems and Labour Kill Off Owen Paterson Unity Candidate Idea

Last night the BBC told readers that Labour, the LibDems and the Greens could stand aside in the forthcoming North Shropshire by-election, to stand an anti-sleaze unity candidate against Owen Paterson’s replacement. While they managed to put egos and party differences aside in 1997 to defeat Neil Hamilton, it looks like that’s too much of a stretch in 2021. Last night Labour sources briefed out that wasn’t going to happen. This morning a LibDem official told the FT’s Jim Pickard:

there was a scintilla of examining… an independent unity candidate of a Martin Bell nature… compliance rules & electoral legislation has changed dramatically since then making it virtually impossible”

Just days after a new book revealed Labour could have taken out Iain Duncan Smith, and the LibDems Dominic Raab if they’d stood unity candidates in 2019…

Talking of Neil Hamilton, he’s been on TimesRadio this morning saying he has a “certain sense of deja vu this morning… nothing much has changed” and arguing “The whole process is flawed”. Guido presumes Paterson did not have Neil Hamilton at the top of the list of people he hoped would be arguing his case this morning…

mdi-timer 5 November 2021 @ 10:58 5 Nov 2021 @ 10:58 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tories’ Post-Paterson Poll Plummet

For those claiming the Paterson row wouldn’t cut through with the public, look away now: the first poll to be conducted after the fiasco is out and the Tories have crashed to a 1% lead. The 2.5% swing sees Labour up two points to 35% and the Tories down three to 36%, the smallest Tory lead for The Times since Rishi’s social care tax rise in September. 22% of 2019 Tory voters are now undecided about who to vote for…

The dust is still settling on the explosive affair, with outlets following up Guido’s first report yesterday of mass outrage directed at the Chief Whip. Last night Downing Street said they were standing by Mark Spencer, which is a more likely sign than any that the death knell tolls for his job. Meanwhile The Times reports Boris resorted to asking SpAds last night how he had been put in this position. A PM should not have to ask that question…

mdi-timer 5 November 2021 @ 08:52 5 Nov 2021 @ 08:52 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Owen Paterson Resigning as an MP

Owen Paterson has announced he will resign as MP for North Shropshire. In a statement released this afternoon, Paterson said “I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics“:

“I have today, after consultation with my family, and with much sadness decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire. The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me. My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned. I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety … I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system. “Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose … She was everything to my children and me. We miss her everyday and the world will always be grey, sad and ultimately meaningless without her. At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met.”

Yet another by-election incoming…

UPDATEBoris has released a statement:

“I am very sad that Parliament will lose the services of Owen Paterson who has been a friend and colleague of mine for decades. He has had a distinguished career, serving in two cabinet positions, and above all he has been a voice for freedom – for free markets and free trade and free societies – and he was an early and powerful champion of Brexit. I know that this must have been a very difficult decision but I can understand why – after the tragic circumstances in which he lost his beloved wife Rose – he has decided to put his family first.”
mdi-timer 4 November 2021 @ 14:31 4 Nov 2021 @ 14:31 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tory MPs Furious at Chief Whip

Word reaches Guido of a large swathe of fury from Tory MPs now being directed at the Chief Whip Mark Spencer over the Owen Paterson farce. One senior MP tells Guido that Boris has “blown up” the Chief Whip’s credibility during the farce, with the sacking and re-appointment of Angela Richardson being the cherry on top of the cake. There’s now a view swirling around a chunk of the party that the actions of the last two days have undermined the credibility of the Chief Whip and the integrity of three-line whipping as a whole; pointing out that from now on if enough Tory MPs break the supposedly strict whip they’ll be able to force a policy u-turn and keep their jobs. The PM’s PPSs aren’t escaping the chaos smelling of roses either…

mdi-timer 4 November 2021 @ 14:12 4 Nov 2021 @ 14:12 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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