A blue-on-blue row has broken out as Tory MP Simon Clarke slams fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen over his decision to take up the anti-vax mantle in parliament. Despite his Commons suspension this week, he’s continued tweeted about vaccines, this morning taking his attacks a step further and accusing the vaccine rollout of being the “biggest crime against humanity since the holocaust”.
This is disgraceful. https://t.co/Q983MZ8fVf— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) January 11, 2023
Former Tory MP Christian Wakeford also joined in, saying to make such a comparison during the month of Holocaust Memorial Day “is despicable” and asks “When is it enough for the Tories to withdraw the whip?”
No.10 tells Tom Harwood that the PM hasn’t seen the tweet in question, and “any disciplinary processes are a matter for the whips”. The Whips office are keeping schtum for the moment…
Simon Clarke slams the one nation, Rishi-supporting wet wing of the Tory party:
“Perhaps the way the leadership election played out meant that much of Rishi’s support ended up coming from the One Nation wing of the party, which I frankly think is just so wrong on so many of these questions… It would be lovely if life was as basically comfortable as a lot of One Nationers would like it to be. But it isn’t, actually. You’ve got to fight for reform, you have to challenge status quos and vested interests. That means tough decisions.”
Simon Clarke on Boris’s return as PM:
“Tees Valley Mayor @BenHouchen and I know that for us, like Boris, the comeback will be greater than the setback.”
Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke and Tees Valley Metro Mayor Ben Houchen have published a joint statement in The Telegraph backing Boris. The move is particularly interesting given Clarke backed Truss and Houchen backed Rishi in the summer leadership contest. The letter in The Telegraph says:
“Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.
He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be.
People on Teesside love Boris because he recognised that while talent is evenly distributed across the country, opportunity is not. Boris gave us that opportunity.
Teesside has had difficult times and is now levelling up because of Boris. We know that for us, like Boris, the comeback will be greater than the setback.”
Houchen is a real loss for Rishi…
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Cabinet Ministers have not been shy in freelancing on economic policy over the last few days, with Suella Braverman now attacking the Government’s reversal of a cut to the 45p rate of tax. Speaking to Christopher Hope this afternoon, the Home Secretary expressed her “disappointment” at the U-turn, and criticised the rebels who effectively “staged a coup” against the PM. She’s not one to mince her words…
The blue-on-blue fighting didn’t end there, with Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke taking to Twitter to support Suella:
Suella speaks a lot of good sense, as usual. https://t.co/EHEPhhZ0sX— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) October 4, 2022
Jacob Rees-Mogg was also quick to voice his disappointment at the scrapped cut at a fringe event this afternoon, although he claimed to recognise the politics of the move. This all comes in the context of public cabinet battles over benefits, and Penny Mordaunt’s attacks on government comms. Meanwhile backbench agitators continue briefing out plans to rebel, with some now even claiming they’re holding “crisis” talks about Liz’s leadership. Truss has been PM for 28 days. Not quite the honeymoon period she would’ve hoped for…