Grieve’s Association Chair Slams ‘Very Unconservative’ MP

Dominic Grieve’s Constituency Chairman in Beaconsfield has written a furious email to local members after Grieve’s latest posturing on Wednesday where he again threatened to quit the Tories to bring down the new Prime Minister. Grieve recently lost the confidence of the Association, now the Constituency Officers including Chairman Jackson Ng slam Grieve as “very unconservative”. They say he has lost their confidence as well:

Your Officers and I find it very unconservative for our Conservative MP – especially one of our Association’s standing – to state in the House of Commons that he is willing to bring down a Conservative Government. Especially so when we have always been tolerant of his minority views, votes on Brexit and been supportive and fair following March’s AGM and SGM last week…

Your Officers and I now find ourselves in a situation where we have to publicly rebuke Dominic’s position and that he has lost our confidence…

Ng wrote to Grieve last week formally requesting that he apply for re-adoption as the Conservative candidate, under the Tories’ obscure constitution this is the next part of the process for the Association to deselect him as their MP. However there’s no specified time limit for Grieve to respond, he can simply hang on until the next general election attacking his own party. Assuming he doesn’t resign the whip or have it removed first…

Read the letter in full:

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Gauke Pleads With Members to Defeat Deselection Attempt

Guido readers will be aware that Justice Secretary David Gauke is facing a Special General Meeting of his local association at the end of the month to hear a motion of no confidence in him as an MP. This morning he has written to local members urging them to support him, despite going against his manifesto commitment that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Despite pushing for the softest Brexit possible, and helping to block the UK’s exit on 29th March – voting against exiting on WTO terms, Gauke claims he has not obstructed Brexit. He also hits out at the person who started the petition, alleging entryism. It’s going to be a messy fight…

Read his letter in full below…

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Gauke No Confidence Notice Sent Out

The Tories are heading for civil war…

Constituency Chairman Asks Grieve to Apply for Re-Adoption

The Chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, Jackson Ng has written to Dominic Grieve

As the Chairman of Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, I understand that there are feelings of disappointment, anger and frustration from many of our membership. Therefore, following this evening’s Special General Meeting and on behalf of our Executive Council, I have immediately written to our MP Dominic Grieve QC to formally request that he now submits a written application to us to seek his re-adoption as our Parliamentary Candidate for the next General Election expected in 2022.

This is usually a formality, not sure it will be this time…

Punters Demand Stewards Inquiry Over May’s Resignation Date Bets

Quite a lot of chatter over at PoliticalBetting.com over the resignation date of Theresa May. Barring something dramatic happening Theresa May will formally resign as Leader of the Conservative Party tomorrow, as the above official statement from the party chairman and the 1922 Committee makes clear. Seems straightforward.

Over on the Betfair exchange some £3,057,129 has been staked on the exact date of her exit on the UK – Party Leaders– Exit Dates – Theresa May” market. The small print in the bet market’s rules states:

Punters seeking clarification have now been told that this means when she leaves Downing Street – which is something completely different altogether. May will remain the Prime Minister in Downing Street for another month or so after she has resigned even though she is no longer the party leader. Punters who understood the Conservative Party’s rules are not happy. It’s clear the bookies are confusing the party leadership and the premiership…

+++ Philip Lee No Confidenced +++


The second referendum backing Tory MP has so alienated members of his constituency association that he didn’t even turn up at the Bracknell Conservative Association’s Special General Meeting. Unsurprisingly they voted that they had no confidence in Philip Lee. Contemptible cowardice or arrogance from the man who had “Philip Lee, Great British Hero” posters printed. Perhaps both.

UPDATE:  Lee has issued a statement:

In the future, I may or may not decide that I can continue serving as a Conservative Member of Parliament and the Bracknell Conservative Association may or may not decide that they wish to readopt me as the Conservative Party’s candidate. But one thing is for sure: we will not be forced into taking a decision one way or the other by this orchestrated, destructive campaign from outside the Party that has done nothing but spread hatred, intimidation and distrust over a single issue. That is not the Conservative way; it is not the Bracknell way.

In reality, according to Guido’s co-conspirator in Bracknell, the only external people visible at the meeting weree about 10 or so People’s Vote ‘protesters’ outside the hotel where the meeting was being held. One had a placard “I support Phillip Lee”. Here’s the co-conspirator’s report

Overall, the meeting was good-natured but a few clashes between people. About 150 wish people attended I reckon. At the beginning of the meeting, the Chairman made it clear that the percentage would not be released, only whether the motion was passed or not – this is apparently in accordance with the constituency constitution (this caused some commotion). He absolutely refuted claims of ‘entryism’ suggesting new members were from both sides of the Brexit argument.

I got chatting to someone who had only been a member for 8 or 9 months (but life-long Tory voter) and he was present at the last AGM where Phillip Lee turned up but said nothing the whole meeting (just looked at his phone). This was brought up by a number of members, in addition to him not even bothering to attend this meeting. This wound a lot of people up. There were quite a few life-long Tories who had re-joined recently.

Many people who spoke mentioned his position on Brexit and lack of support for the government but also mentioned his general attitude (not responding to emails, etc). Some councillors refuted this claim. Many scoffed at his comment about foreign money being involved in this action against him.

The most common argument for not supporting this amendment was that it was not the right time; this would play into the hands of the opposition, Phillip may run as an independent and split the Tory vote, etc. These suggestions didn’t go down well. Nothing positive really said about Phillip.

One laughable suggestion was that we should vote to reject this motion because the meeting alone would be enough to help change Phillip’s behaviour – “that boat has sailed” was heard after that comment.

Probably 90% people spoke against Phillip – bringing up all the above points – many of which got lots of applause. He just isn’t well liked.

That last point is a common refrain from people who have to deal with him…

Phillip Lee Makes Final Plea to Bracknell Tories Ahead of No Confidence Vote

Tory second referendum campaigner Phillip Lee is facing the music at a Special General Meeting of Bracknell Conservative Association this Saturday morning, they will vote on a no confidence motion in him. Except that Lee won’t even be there himself, he issued a shouty press release a couple of weeks ago dismissing it as “entryism”, accusing “a narrow group that seeks to destroy the Conservative Party from within” of trying to “intimidate” him into changing his Brexit position, and even telling his supporters not to attend the meeting either. That’s one way to rally support…

Dr Lee now appears to have realised that wasn’t a particularly good strategy and sent a lengthy email lovebombing all the local Tory members today. He even claims “I have never voted to stop Brexit” while giving an impressively slippery defence of his support for a second referendum. Bad Al Campbell would be proud:

“the only realistic way of healing the country and giving the Conservative party a fighting chance – a confirmatory referendum on a final deal to leave the EU, versus remaining as full members. This is not a way of delaying Brexit – I have always said that the final deal put to the people should be agreed with the EU and deliverable the day after the referendum. On the contrary, it is a way of bringing Brexit, one way or another, to a conclusion.”

Lee literally founded the hapless Tory People’s Vote campaign, needless to say local Tory members are not impressed with his last-minute attempts to spin it as something completely innocuous now. One tells Guido “the general view is that he doesn’t have a f***ing clue”…

Local members are also unimpressed with his attempts to blame entryism, they say many of the people unhappy with Lee have been members for fifteen years or more. Association Chairman Gerry Barber has emailed local members to inform them that only people who have been members for three months or more are entitled to vote. Interestingly he is not planning to reveal the precise vote tallies, only whether the no confidence motion passes or not…

Lee still throws a few red herrings out there to try to pre-emptively undermine the result, he repeats his message that his supporters need not attend, before urging them to vote for him after all in the very same paragraph “if you do, however, happen to be there.” Even if the no confidence vote succeeds, as it did with Dominic Grieve, this doesn’t deselect Lee directly – that would need to be done by a separate deselection vote. Looks like Phillip Lee might be getting his “confirmatory referendum” after all…

Read the letter in full below:

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Tories Open Selections for Candidates to Replace TIG Defectors

Any possible routes, however unlikely, for the TIGger defectors to make shock returns to the Tories from their floundering party will soon be closed off: the Tories have just opened new candidate selections for all of their seats. CCHQ emailed the Tory candidates’ list calling for applications for nine seats including Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) and Totnes (Sarah Wollaston). Bye!

Grantham and Stanford is also being opened for applications, Nick Boles had already announced that he wouldn’t be contesting the seat again but there will still be many Tories sad to see him go. Candidates have until Monday 17th June to apply if they want to be the heir to Heidi…

Next PM: Who’s Backing Who

The race for the next Tory leader is officially on with Theresa May to formally resign as party leader on June 7.

Bearing in mind this is the trickiest, slipperiest electorate on earth, a “Who’s Backing Who” list is difficult to compile. If they are doing well candidates deliberately hide their early support to give the impression of growing momentum. Famously when Douglas Hurd and John Major compared their canvass lists it turned out dozens of Tory MPs had pledged to them both, so private lists have risks as well…

Guido’s list is compiled from what we are hearing and from those who have advocated publicly for a candidate. At this early stage it should not be taken as a guide to likely support levels. Here’s who we think is backing who so far – full spreadsheet order-order.com/backers:

Get in touch with any updates…

Gove’s Pitch to MPs

Tom Tugendhat came out for Gove last night, which is the final sign, if a sign was needed, that Gove is definitely running. Gove’s parliamentary office was reportedly a hive of activity yesterday with MPs coming and going all day. He has been arguing heavily behind closed doors against the Government bringing in the WAB – warning that another triple-digit defeat would make it much harder for a deal to go through under May’s successor. Who could he be thinking of…

It appears the ever energetic Gove has two pitches to the MPs who come into his office. To those Gove believes are sympathetic to his merits he stresses his competence in driving change and innovative approach to policy. To those MPs he suspects are not fans his case is more utilitarian…

Gove implies his ambition is only to steady the Tory ship, get Brexit over the line and then dutifully make way for a more voter-friendly candidate to smash Corbyn in a future general election. Terms and conditions may apply…

Leadsom Resigns

Guido suspected it would be difficult for the Leave-backing Leader of the House to bring a bill allowing for a customs union or a second referendum. She didn’t fancy it…

Fresh Plot to Oust May on the 1922 Committee Today

After Theresa May inexplicably gave the worst speech of her career two days before an election where the Tories were already set for a pasting, the mood has darkened so dramatically among the Tories that many have decided they cannot wait any longer to get her out. Dozens of Tory MPs who reluctantly backed her at MV3, including Boris and Dom Raab, have now publicly denounced her new “bold offer” including the promise of a vote on a second referendum and the numbers are still going up and up. 1922 Executive Committee member Nigel Evans will today move a fresh rule change motion before the committee. With the intention of removing the Prime Minister as soon as possible.

Executive Secretary Evans tells Guido that “I’ll move a rule change… it may even be forthwith… with immediate effect as a one off.” Guido hears the committee is more likely than ever before to accept a change in the rules that will shorten the protected time following a leadership no confidence vote from twelve months to six, or even the swift one off scenario, meaning May could be forced from out 12th June, or even as early as next week. Gove says the WAB itself will be published today – if the details are as ugly as expected it could be the final straw. If she goes before Monday she won’t even pass Gordon Brown’s tenure…

Opponent Most Feared by Labour Members is Boris

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As Tory MPs start jostling for position at the start of the Tory leadership race, they and their allies will be making claims and counter-claims about who would be best placed to take on Corbyn with one eye on their own prospects. Perhaps it might be worth asking a more objective sample of experts who might be best placed to beat Corbyn? Labour activists for example?

LabourList did a massive survey of 4,478 readers last week which they have just published. They asked: “Which of the following potential candidates do you think would be most difficult for Jeremy Corbyn to beat in a general election?”

Labour frontbenchers and Owen Jones might bluff that they don’t fear Boris, in reality they remember he beat them twice in London, a City they consider their fiefdom. The opponent Labour activists most fear is Boris. They know. The clique of Tory MPs who are trying to block Boris are making a strategic mistake that risks delivering a Marxist government in Britain.

Tory EU Election Leaflet Doesn’t Mention Brexit Once

Theresa May launched the Tory EU Election ‘campaign’ last week with the inspiring message: “to vote for a party that will can deliver Brexit, vote Conservative.” Voters in London will have a hard time spotting that message on the party’s EU Election leaflets. The word Brexit literally doesn’t appear once, it reads like the MEPs are planning full 5-year terms…

Bemused Tory activists suspect that uber-Remainer Charles Tannock has had a hand in the design. To be fair to committed Brexiteer Syed Kamall, word on the street is that he’s only running for re-election to keep Tannock out…

Tears at the ’22

The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton-Dunn reports that during the 1922 Executive meeting, at the point where Theresa May pleaded for more time, she was “very teary”. “Her eyes were very watery”, and she had to blow her nose. The waterworks act worked…

The PM agreed, and the Executive of the 1922 Committee issued this statement:

“The Prime Minister is determined to secure our departure from the European Union and is devoting her efforts to securing the 2nd Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week commencing 3rd June 2019 and the passage of that Bill and the consequent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union by the summer. We have agreed that she and I will meet following the Second Reading of the Bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”

Originally the ’22 intended to tell her time was up and she had to set the exit process in motion with a fixed timetable. She now has 2 more weeks to reconcile the irreconcilable…

Tories Fall Nine Points Behind Labour, Brexit Party Get 10% Despite Not Being Included

Labour have opened up a nine-point gap over the Tories, according to the latest Kantar general election polling. The Tories slumped to just 25% behind Labour’s 34%. Kantar’s poll from March had a ten-point lead for the Tories – that’s a 19-point swing to Labour in just two months…

Incredibly, despite not even being included in the poll, the Brexit Party secured 10% and 4th place entirely on the basis of spontaneous mentions. No such luck for Change UK, they also weren’t included but only managed 1%. How much worse would the Tories have scored if the Brexit Party were actually included?

Blunt: Tories Must Come to Electoral Arrangement With the Brexit Party

The Tories are waking up to the stark reality that they face electoral annihilation at the hands of the Brexit Party unless something dramatically changes – and that is not a customs union deal with Corbyn. A new Prime Minister is just the start…

Crispin Blunt set out the basic facts of political life on Newsnight last night – this Parliament will not let Brexit through, this makes a General Election inevitable, without some sort of electoral arrangement with the Brexit Party the Tories are going to be decimated. In terms of maximising the numbers of pro-Brexit MPs, the logic behind a ‘Brexit Alliance’ is there. Can Nigel Farage really be talked down if the momentum stays firmly behind him, or will megalomania be the order of the day? He wants to “change politics for good”, that may mean to him the end of the Tories…

Tory MPs’ Brexit Party Tease

Fair to say that some Tory MPs seem more worried about the rise of the Brexit Party than others, Alan Duncan has gone into panic spinning mode against Farage, more level-headed sorts like James Cleverly are pointing out that the Tories should be asking why their voters are switching rather than vilifying them. Some don’t seem to be too upset at all…

Nadine Dorries praised Nigel Farage’s “fantastic interview” on Marr yesterday, Henry Smith told his local paper that Farage was a better leader than May. Lucy Allan hit back at Duncan’s Marr outburst, having already shared the Brexit Party’s election broadcast the day before:

It’s not the first time Allan’s approvingly shared Brexit Party content, while her Conservative-themed cover photo has also recently disappeared from her Twitter profile and ‘Brexit’ has appeared in her bio. Talk of defections is a bit premature but it’s hardly surprising that many Leave-supporting MPs are ashamed to be Tories right now…

Where the 1922 Executive Stand on the Tory Leadership Rules

Guido understands that this is how the so-called “men in grey suits” – the 1922 Executive Committee – have been divided over whether to change the Conservative Party’s rules to allow Theresa May to be challenged with a fresh no confidence vote before December. It’s on a knife edge:

  • Pro-change (8): Bob Blackman (Secretary), Nigel Evans (Secretary), Geoffrey Clifton Brown (Treasurer), Bernard Jenkin, Pauline Latham, Sheryll Murray, William Wragg, Bill Wiggin
  • Anti-change (9): Cheryl Gillan (Vice-Chair), Charles Walker (Vice-Chair), Kemi Badenoch (Tory Party Vice-Chair), John Lamont, Jeremy Lefroy, Mark Pawsey, Antoinette Sandbach, Alec Shelbrooke (Tory Party Vice-Chair), John Stevenson
  • Abstain (1): Graham Brady (Chair)

The split is largely Leave-Remain, although three Leavers, 1922 Vice-Chairmen Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker, and Kemi Badenoch, are currently opposing the change. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown previously opposed removing May but has publicly switched since. Crucially, Chairman Graham Brady – a Brexiteer – is on the fence, while others like Gillan are thought to be wavering…

As Guido reported earlier, Brexiteers are weighing up different strategic options to maximise the chances of successfully changing the party leadership. May has been granted a week’s reprieve to have one more attempt at getting a deal through. The Committee can’t stay on the fence forever when she fails again…

UPDATE: Guido understands that Kemi Badenoch is actually opposing any change, not abstaining as originally reported.

Conservatives Break Through 1000-Seat Loss Mark

Labour’s shock poor performance today has shielded the Conservatives from much of the criticism their woeful local election performance deserves. The Tories were bracing for losses around the 700-800 mark, the higher numbers briefed out last week were meant to be for expectation management purposes.[…] Read the rest

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