Exclusive: Iceland Boss Sent Letter Begging Rishi for Seat Before Defecting to Labour

As Guido first revealed, hereditary Iceland boss and former Tory donor Richard Walker has now quit the party ahead of his defection to Labour at their party conference next week – having repeatedly failed to get selected as a Tory candidate. Last night in The Times he accused the Conservatives of “flip-flopping” on big policies, and this morning he laments in The Observer how “badly out of touch” they’ve become since the 2019 election. These were not concerns he appeared to have just over four months ago: Guido can reveal he sent Rishi Sunak a personal letter begging to be put on the Conservative candidates’ list…

Guido has obtained the full letter, in which Walker spends three pages complaining about his failure to get selected and boasting about his charity efforts. He closes by asking Rishi to personally lift his deferment and install him as the Tory candidate Chester South & Eddisbury…

“As you will already be aware, it is my most fervent wish that I succeed in becoming an approved Conservative Party Candidate, and I have—over the last two years—given my all to earning that privilege… Unfortunately, I am subject to a deferment notice, imposed by the Committee on Candidates… I have striven to ensure that I anything I say in the public arena fully supports HM Government and Conservative Party policy… I am left with no other choice but to appeal to you directly to both lift this deferment and allow me to put myself forward to represent both the Conservative Party and my community in Chester South & Eddisbury.”

That letter was sent at the end of May. Once it was clear the plea had failed, Walker quit, and is now moaning in The Observer about how terrible the Tories have become. Out in the cold… 

Read the full letter below:

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Failed Tory Candidate Wannabe to Flip to Labour at Conference

Guido can exclusively reveal Iceland supermarket boss Richard Walker, who has spent the last nine months or so trying and failing to become a Tory candidate, is planning to publicly slide across to the Labour Party at their conference in Liverpool next month. Sir Keir was hoping to reveal the hereditary CEO of Iceland as evidence that his party’s relationship with business has defrosted, and now Walker is preparing a big speech on the conference floor announcing his defection. Sorry to spoil the surprise…

Walker had spent months lobbying senior Conservative figures for a seat, and threw his toys out the pram when he found out he’d received a number of deferments preventing him from applying when vacancies cropped up. Entitled Walker’s diva ways did not help him in his efforts to get selected for the 2021 North Shropshire by-election. Guido understands there were always suspicions internally over his motives and suitability. It didn’t help that he’s previously campaigned alongside Extinction Rebellion… despite Walker’s frequent use of a private helicopter

Now Starmer has welcomed his with open arms and intends to parade him around at Labour Conference. Has Sir Keir promised to take a safe seat out of cold storage for him?

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Iceland Boss Planning to Stand as Tory MP… Campaigned Against Tories

Iceland supermarket boss Richard Walker is still determined to become a Tory MP at the next election – and is vowing to stick around as the company’s chair even if he’s elected to Parliament. Speaking to This is Money over the weekend, Walker, who’s led the £4 billion family firm for over four years, pointed out “plenty of MPs have second jobs.” Clearly not putting all his eggs in one basket…

“I think it is important that people know what the outside world is like – what it is like to pay the wages on a Friday […] I’ll give it my all – but with regards to Iceland, nothing changes. It is important politics has people that aren’t just inside the Westminster bubble.”

Guido’s inclined to agree – learning a thing or two about the real world before entering politics is always a good thing. While Walker’s planning his next gig, however, his would-be colleagues might be thinking about his current second job. He also happens to chair environmental group Surfers Against Sewage, which campaigned with Extinction Rebellion this month to attack Conservative MPs who voted against tougher laws on dumping sewage in the ocean.

Could make for awkward conversations on the green benches…

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Iceland’s Political Earthquake

Even Paxman couldn’t shake up politicians like this clip from a New York Times interview with Iceland’s PM, during which Kagtrín Jakobsdóttir was forced to deal with a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. Her reaction? A shrug and “this is Iceland”…

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Iceland: Everyone Wants a Free Trade Deal With Britain

Interesting insights from Icelandic foreign minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson on the Today programme this morning. He says “everyone” wants a free trade deal with Britain and urged the EU to sort a deal “as soon as possible”.

Thordarson: “It’s clear that when Britain starts to negotiate their own free trade deals then everyone wants to make a free trade deal with Britain.”

Humphrys: “Is that right? Everyone wants to make a free trade deal with Britain?”

Thordarson: “You’re the fifth largest economy in the world. I mean, everyone wants to sell you good and services. It’s just as simple as that. Then is the arrangement between the EU and UK, and honestly I think it’s just very important that a solution is found as soon as possible, because it’s very important that we will not see, and I say the same thing to both sides, it’s very important that we will not see any technical or trade restrictions now in Europe. That would be a step backwards and everyone would lose from that. You can debate if the EU would lose more than the UK, that’s the not the thing, everyone would lose.”

Thordarson also explained the trade benefits to Iceland of not being a member of the EU. Humphrys didn’t sound convinced…

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PM Resigns Over Panama Papers

The Icelandic PM…

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