With Rishi Sunak, David Davis, Sajid Javid and Mel Stride all pulling out of Tory Conference this weekend, hacks were already beginning to wonder if the trip to Birmingham will even be worth it. Now, sadly, another big beast has confirmed he’s out: Rehman Chishti isn’t going either. According to Adam Payne, the former Tory leadership hopeful – whose trailblazing two-day campaign changed the course of politics – confirmed he’s joining Rishi in skipping the conference to give Liz “space“:
“Having stood for leadership and having stepped up to serve in the transitional government, I am giving the PM and her chosen team space to set out their strategy for delivering for our country.”
While the whips’ office will be upset to lose another star player this weekend, this will surely give No.10 peace of mind. Wouldn’t want Rehman undermining Liz’s big moment…
Rehman Chishti, making his first appearance in the Commons as a minister:
“This my first appearance at the Despatch Box, not knowing if it will be my last.”
A crushing blow. Who will his one and only backer – himself – support now?
Following the resignation of Rehman Chishti, Guido thought it’d be helpful to contextualise the true levels of opposition to the Internal Market Bill as it currently stands, before some get carried away. Theoretically, 39 need to rebel for the bill to fail:
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International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has just announced he is pulling out of the upcoming “Davos in the Desert” conference in Saudi Arabia next week after revelations that the country was behind the torture and killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This morning Guido revealed Tory Vice Chairman Rehman Chishti had received £46,000 from the Saudis, further research by Guido reveals that since 2017, 11 other Conservative MPs have declared all-expenses-paid trips to Saudi Arabia, funded by the Saudi government. These junckets are worth more than £85,000. Liam Fox will not be taking his planned trip to Saudi Arabia next week, but look at all the Tories who did…
Following their visits Mark Menzies warned Ministers to not be “put off by siren voices that want us to disengage” with Saudi export markets, and Leo Docherty called for further trade engagement with Saudi Arabia “the right thing to do not only commercially, but strategically and morally.”
U.S. intelligence is now reportedly “convinced” the Saudi state is responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It’s worth keeping an eye on which MPs have been very quiet on this issue…
UPDATE: Bravo to Mark Menzies who has written a letter to the Foreign Secretary supporting a “thorough investigation”.