Over Half Tory MPs’ Voting Intentions Now Identified

Guido’s MP Voting Intentions Tracker has identified where more than half of Government supporting MPs stand on Chequers. Overnight readers have helped track down another 11 MPs who are opposed to the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposal, bringing the total number up to 44. Still a way off the 80 MPs Steve Baker was talking of yesterday, keep those names coming in…

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May Planning “Campaign 2022” Conference Speech

The agenda for the final day of Tory Conference this year will raise a few hackles and probably heckles. May’s keynote speech has optimistically been listed under the heading “Campaign 2022”:

Of course, May has to declare her intention to stay in the job for the long haul to avoid being becoming a lame duck, she will be hard-pressed to find anyone in Westminster or the wider membership who seriously thinks she will be contesting the 2022 General Election. That being said the agenda doesn’t specify precisely who the Prime Minister will be on October 3rd

SNP Has More Members Than Tories

If Guido were the Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis he would be happily signing up all the former ‘kippers being sent his way by Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore that he can. According to the latest research from the Commons Library the SNP has more members than the Conservative Party. Making the Tories the third largest party in Britain…

Incoming DCMS SpAds from Industry

Politico are reporting that EE’s ‘Westminster link man’ Alexander Jackman and Finsbury PR’s (and formerly England Rugby’s) Lucy Noakes have joined DCMS as SpAds for Secretary of State Jeremy Wright. Their first task will be to raise his profile…

Brexit Bad Boy Banks Joins Tories

Top trolling. To be fair he was a Tory branch chairman back in the day. It will be interesting to see if he is anathema to Tory leadership hopefuls or not…

UPDATE: This evening the Tories are briefing that they’re not going to let him in, Banks is saying he has already got his acceptance email:

CCHQ Exodus Continues

The CCHQ walkout continues, as Guido can reveal yet more departures. Congratulations to Charlotte Ivers, one of the brightest talents at the Conservative Research Department who has been poached by Number 10. She is very popular among colleagues and will be missed. Jess Prestidge has been snapped up by the Bright Blue think tank, she will be a big loss to the CCHQ briefing team. Thomas Dee is also off, leaving the Media Monitoring Unit severely depleted following the departure of its boss Gareth Milner. Meanwhile, Will Holloway is leaving CRD to become a SpAd for Greg Clark at BEIS. CCHQ is really haemorrhaging staff at the moment. The atmopshere is toxic and others are looking to leave. It does have a rats leaving a sinking ship feel…

Yet More CCHQ Departures

Guido can reveal yet more departures from CCHQ. Head of Media Monitoring Gareth Milner has become a bit of a legend at Matthew Parker Street after surviving two deployments to Afghanistan and the 2017 general election campaign. Milner is much-loved by colleagues – not just for the sizeable amount of Lego he has installed around the office – he is one of the good guys in Westminster, has a great nose for a story and a thug life meme, and will be extremely tough to replace. Milner has been poached as the new Head of Digital at the Centre for Policy Studies starting in October, a great hire for them. Congratulations… 

The CCHQ digital team has been hit by heavy losses. Head of Online Marketing Tony Hinds and Head of Film and Video Jonny Piper have left. Hinds and Piper are the last links to the Craig Elder 2015 digital team and leave the current operation with just three people and no election experience. Which hardly bodes well when the Tory digital output is already outclassed by Labour and Momentum on a daily basis. Starting to resemble the Marie Celeste over there…

CCHQ Receives Lord Sheikh Tunis Conference Complaint

CCHQ is under pressure to launch an investigation into Lord Sheikh after receiving a formal complaint about his attendance at Jeremy Corbyn’s 2014 Tunis conference, also attended by Hamas and other extremists. Yesterday Guido published photos of the Tory peer speaking at the scandal-hit event, and Sheikh confirmed to us on the phone that he was present. And involved…

Last night Zac Goldsmith demanded Lord Sheikh was booted out of the Tory party, tweeting:

“If this man is not immediately expelled from the Conservative Party, the Party hierarchy’s complaints about Corbyn will look entirely cynical.”

The complaint also calls for investigations into Brandon Lewis, Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry. CCHQ announced that they were automatically investigating Boris after they received a complaint – will they be pursuing these with such public vigour as well?

The complaint in full:

Top Tory Attended Corbyn Terror Conference

The Tories are going in hard on Corbyn over his attendance at a 2014 conference linked to various Palestinian terrorists. Sajid Javid has called for the Labour leader to resign. Writing in the Mail today, Brandon Lewis describes Corbyn’s attendance at the conference in Tunisia as “beyond the pale”. Which doesn’t bode well for top Tory peer Lord Sheikh…

Sheikh, the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, declared in his 2014 register of interests a trip to a conference in Tunisia on the same date:

Visit to Tunisia, 29 September – 2 October 2014, to attend conference in Tunis at invitation of President of Tunisia; cost of flights and three nights’ hotel accommodation was paid by Government of Tunisia

In a post on his website from the time, Sheikh confirms the conference was about Palestine. The conference was addressed by Hamas and other extremist speakers who gave anti-Semitic speeches. Given Lord Sheikh’s other links to various extremists, surely CCHQ will have to act against him? 

UPDATE: We now have a pic of Sheikh at the conference. Will the Tories be taking action? Pretty big double standard if not…

UPDATE II: Tory MP Rob Halfon calls for CCHQ to launch an investigation into Lord Sheikh:

“If this is true, re Lord Sheikh, in attending this conference alongside Mr Corbyn – & if it is true extremist anti semites & Hamas were in attendance & speaking, there needs to be an investigation by Conservative Party/inquiry re codes of conduct et al”

READ: Complaint to CCHQ About Brandon Lewis in Full

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Guido has been leaked the formal complaint received by CCHQ accusing Brandon Lewis of breaching the Nolan principles on selflessness, integrity, openness and honesty over his pairing scandal. The complainant, a Tory party member, accuses Lewis of “deceiving new mother Jo Swinson”. Will Brandon be facing a disciplinary panel? If not, it’s one rule for some…

The key question is who decides if he faces a panel? Is it a CCHQ employee? Who is going to refer their own boss? The whole process is a farce…

Gavin Lets the Cat Out Of the Bag

Prolific Instagram liker Gavin Williamson has let the cat out of the bag… liking a comment suggesting his cat could soon replace Palmerston in Number 10. (Palmerston is actually the FCO mouser but can often be found prowling up Downing Street.) Quite possibly the clearest declaration of intent yet ahead of the coming Tory leadership battle. Gavin Williamson wants to be Prime Minister? Who knew?

Brandon Moves to Reassure Furious MPs as WhatsApp Leak Reveals Support For Boris

Brandon Lewis is privately attempting to reassure Tory MPs about CCHQ’s investigation into Boris – as the party chairman faces an outpouring of criticism on the Tory MPs WhatsApp group from colleagues backing BoJo. In messages leaked to Guido, Zac Goldsmith asked “What on earth is the Party doing?!”, while Anne-Marie Trevelyan slammed CCHQ’s inquiry into Boris as “bizarre and frankly shocking”. Trevelyan went on to demand: “Perhaps Brandon can explain why this inquiry is happening?”

Andrea Jenkyns posted Rowan Atkinson’s comments into the group, before Andrea Leadsom backed Munira Mirza’s ConHome article backing Boris:

Steve Double revealed he had has held private talks with Brandon Lewis and James Cleverly to raise his concerns about the Boris investigation. Double says that after speaking to Lewis and Cleverly his fears have been assuaged. Could Brandon be about to climb down?

Nadine Dorries then let rip into CCHQ for briefing out the announcement of the Boris investigation – against the usual protocol that these things are kept private – and criticised the “private chats with Brandon and James”:

Seems clear from their WhatsApp group that Tory MPs are backing Boris and want CCHQ to get a grip. Time for Brandon to drop it and move on?

Brandon: Labour Are Busy Fighting Amongst Themselves

Brandon Lewis has just emailed Tory party members telling them “Labour are busy fighting amongst themselves”.

You couldn’t make it up…

Tories Turn on “May’s Thug” Brandon Over Boris Stitch Up

Brandon Lewis’ attempted stitch up of Boris – launching an investigation and then farcically choosing the panel members himself – is not going well for him. Tory MPs are kicking off and turning their fire on Brandon. A top Tory has told the Sun their party chairman is:

“May’s thug” 

A Tory minister texts Guido:

“It will be Brandon Lewis who is out of a job by the end of the week if he keeps this up. The story was dying and all he’s done is reignite it. He needs to stop before he tears the party apart.”

And a former Cabinet minister says:

“What Boris said was true and he was taking a liberal, tolerant line. This is politically motivated right to the top.”

The consensus appears to be that Brandon has lost the plot…

Brandon Launches Boris Investigation

Brandon Lewis appears to have officially lost the plot, launching an investigation into Boris, putting the story on the front page of the Standard and deliberately keeping the Tory crisis going for another day. There can be no other conclusion than the Tory party chairman is trying to do Boris in…

Is Brandon going to investigate Remainers like Ken Clarke, who called the burka a “bag”, and Anna Soubry, who called it “peculiar”? Or is he just trying to take out the main Brexiteer leadership contender? Is he going to investigate Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries over their comments yesterday? He is in danger of tearing the Tory party apart…

This is extraordinarily reckless behaviour from a Tory party chairman, who is deliberately fanning the flames rather than putting them out. Especially one who it could also be argued breached the Tory code of conduct with his dishonourable actions over pairing. Tories will be tearing up their membership cards over this…

UPDATE: Turns out Brandon Lewis appoints the panel that will investigate Boris. Given Brandon is actively trying to do Boris in, with a total joke process…

Latest Tory MP WhatsApp Group Mishap

This unfortunate typo from Mark Francois greatly amused Tory MPs on their WhatsApp group last night. Guido is reminded that “t” and “r” and next to each other on the keyboard…

Extremist-Linked Assad Fan Lord Sheikh and His Zionist-Bashing Group

Tory peer Lord Sheikh, who has called for the party to remove the whip from Boris, is being promoted far and wide by pro-Remain news organisations. Sheikh is the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum. He is, as they say, problematic… 

Sheikh is on the record publicly praising the controversial group the Al Muntada Trust. The group faced scrutiny after fears were raised that its funds had ended up with Boko Haram extremists. It has been linked to a series of anti-Semitic, homophobic and extremist preachers. In the video above, Lord Sheikh calls the group “marvellous”…

Then there is Lord Sheikh’s praise for the East London Mosque. Sheikh said:

“I would certainly commend the Mosque and Centre: not only do you provide a place of worship, but you provide a holistic service and more importantly the empowerment for women.”

Once again, the East London Mosque has well-known and established links to a series of misogynistic and homophobic speakers.

It gets worse. Lord Sheikh has links to the hugely controversial Interal charity, which was investigated by the Charity Commission over its links to Hamas.

Sheikh is a fan of Assad, calling him “an extremely well-informed, intelligent and articulate person who cares about the plight of the Palestinian refugees”. Sheikh went on a trip to meet Assad alongside Jeremy Corbyn and Jenny Tonge. Shouldn’t alarm bells be ringing here?

Under Sheikh’s tenure, the Conservative Muslim Forum produced a series of extremely hostile statements towards Israel and Zionists. The group is quoted as saying:

“An incoming Conservative Administration must appreciate that a pro-zionist [sic] attitude will not bode well with many. Pro-zionist statements only damage relationships with Muslims nationally and internationally. Thus, statements like the one made by David Cameron on 12th June 2007 can be too easily interpreted as unbalanced and weighted towards only the zionist and Israeli positions.”

Some of Lord Sheikh’s links are more the sort of thing we could expect from Jeremy Corbyn back in the day. Not sure he is a serious voice in Tory circles by any stretch of Remainers’ imaginations. Given the above, perhaps it is him CCHQ should be having a word with about keeping the whip…

Pink Slip: Tories Photoshop Brandon as “Voice of Women”

Three weeks ago Brandon Lewis broke his pregnancy pair with new mum Jo Swinson. Today the Tories have photoshopped him pink and dubbed him “the voice of women in politics”. Well done, geniuses. Surprised they didn’t put him in a pink burka…

Raab, Gove, Fox, Leadsom Try to Sell Chequers to Tory Members

Guido is not sure Tory members are going to react well to these words from Raab, Gove, Fox and Leadsom trying to convince them to back Chequers, in a letter that arrived in the post this morning. Some of the stuff they are saying here is just flat out untrue. Do they think their own members are stupid?

Tories: It’s Wrong to Say Burka is Oppressive

The Tories appear to be having a total mental breakdown about the burka / niqab. The new line, delivered by Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright this morning, is that it is wrong to describe it as “oppressive”. This is a very strange position for the Tory party to be taking – you have to wonder what on earth is going on.[…] Read the rest

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