Welsh Tories Unimpressed with Cairns’ Defection to Liz

Welsh Tory sources have been left distinctly unimpressed with the news that Alun Cairns is the third senior Tory MP to defect from Rishi to Liz in the last week, following Chris Skidmore and Robert Buckland. The Mail got the scoop yesterday afternoon, reporting Cairns now believes Truss is best placed to save the Union:

“At the outset of the campaign, I met Rishi Sunak to discuss the future of the Union and was content with his responses. I chose to support him.

However, as the campaign has developed, the risks to our Union have become more apparent.  There is a need to break out of the current orthodoxy. The future of our Union depends on it.

For this reason, I have concluded that with the positive ambition for our country and imagination she has shown, alongside her strong track record as a reformer, Liz Truss is best placed to secure our Union.”

Guido’s since been sent Cairns’ full endorsement of Rishi, only sent to Glamorgan association members, and his reasons for backing Rishi were far more numerous than those he now cites in his Mail op-ed. Cairns didn’t just meet with Rishi to “discuss the future of the Union”, however to “question his commitment to reduce taxes and making the most of Brexit”. His takeaway from the meeting wasn’t just ‘contentedness’, it was incredibly enthusiastic:

“His focus and knowledge of what should be done to achive both was enourmously reassuring and will make a significant difference to the lives of everyone. Economic competence must go hand in hand with any plans to reduce taxes”

We have two excellent candidates that could lead our nation and we must win the next election. I believe that Rishi Sunak is in the strongest position to beat Labour and this is why I will be voting in his favour.”

A senior Welsh Conservative source told Guido “It’s clear to everybody what’s happened here. Alun has seen which way the wind is blowing and flip flopped. The guff about the Union is just a poorly constructed smoke screen for what is ultimately a selfish, careerist leap for the bandwagon.” Even more remarkably, Guido’s source is a self-professed Liz supporter. Double ouch…

mdi-timer 16 August 2022 @ 12:37 16 Aug 2022 @ 12:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
11 Tory Whips Declare for Liz

Rishi’s monopoly on ex-Chief Whips backing his campaign is said to show how badly out of alignment the Tory parliamentary party and the membership have become over the last few years. Mark Spencer (2019-2022), Julian Smith (2017-2019), Gavin Williamson (2016-2017), Mark Harper (2015) and Andrew Mitchell (2012) are all backing Sunak. Michael Gove’s allegiances (2014) are also well rumoured…

Today, however, Liz gets a major boost. 11 whips have come out and back Truss over the preferences of their former bosses. A major coup, especially given it was thought many were going to remain undeclared.

They know the way the wind is blowing…

mdi-timer 16 August 2022 @ 10:01 16 Aug 2022 @ 10:01 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Campaign Update: North of the Border Edition

Good Tuesday morning. There are 18 days left of the Tory leadership campaign. Today the candidates travel to Scotland, with a sold-out members’ hustings kicking off this evening in Perth.

Today’s new policy:

  • Surprise, surprise: today it’s all about Scotland. Liz is set to outline her plan to “turbocharge business investment, drive growth and boost exports” north of the border.
  • To do that, she plans to end to the 150% tariff on Scotch Whisky in India “to boost exports and reduce SME trade barriers“, and give parliamentary privilege to members of the Scottish Parliament. Liz says the latter move will allow for “more robust questioning of ministers and increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament to hold the Scottish Government to account.” So much for “ignoring” Nicola…
  • She’ll also reiterate her previously announced plans to introduce investment zones, reverse the National Insurance rise, and cut corporation tax. Just in case anybody forgot…

Cost of Living:

  • The Times reports Liz will offer “targeted support” this winter to vulnerable and low income households, rather than increasing the £400 energy bill grant currently set for every household. Steven Swinford and Chris Smyth claim a PM Truss will offer a “mix and match approach” that will focus on “increasing benefits such as universal credit and pension credit” instead of handing cash to everyone regardless of income. Nothing absolute yet, although we probably shouldn’t expect the final bill to touch the £30 billion (at least) proposed by Sir Keir yesterday… 

In other news:

  • Last night Liz picked up another defector, with former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns dumping Rishi and turning to Liz because, as he puts it in his Mail+ piece, “the future of our Union depends on it.” He’s the third MP to ditch Rishi after Robert Buckland and Chris Skidmore.
  • A new poll from Redfield & Wilton Strategies puts Liz 4 points ahead of Starmer in a head-to-head contest, with Liz on 41% (+3), Starmer on 37% (+2), and 22% undecided (-4). Liz and her team will be pleased, especially since last weekend’s Mail on Sunday polling from Lord Ashcroft gave Starmer the edge over both Tory candidates.
  • Her spokesperson said:

“This latest poll confirms what we are hearing around the country: Liz’s bold and ambitious plan is resonating with voters who know she will deliver for them. It’s clear that only Liz can beat Keir Starmer at the next election.”

Today’s new policies:

Two big policy briefings from Camp Rishi today: one on Scotland, another on the Civil Service. First up…

Scotland:

  • Will announce a plan to massively beef up Westminster’s presence in Holyrood, with Scottish Civil Service leaders required to attend annual UK Parliament Select Committee hearings, and the Scottish Government compelled to publish more detailed and consistent data on public service delivery.
  • UK government ministers will also be instructed to become “more visible” in Holyrood, including attending more Select Committee hearings, to “reinforce the collective responsibility of the Union“. And probably to upset the SNP.
  • Sunak says this morning:

“For too long the SNP has been able to obscure its failures by picking and choosing the data it publishes – I would change that, ensuring the Scottish Government’s record could be held to account, while ensuring our public services are better joined up. Scottish senior civil servants will also face greater scrutiny, with the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government required to appear annually at a UK Parliament Select Committee hearing.”

Civil Service:

Rishi is also unveiling his plan to “shakeup” Whitehall, which is composed of six main parts:

  • Tackle “groupthink” and ensure all Senior Civil Servants spend at least a year outside Whitehall before they’re eligible for promotion
  • Improve efficiency and reward expertise by “ending the unnecessary churn of staff” who leap from department to department
  • Cut down on the overall Civil Service headcount and demand cost-cutting efficiencies from quangos.
  • Toughen performance management” to recognise talent over tenure.
  • Improve the regionality of the Civil Service by moving more of it out of London.
  • Restarting the Fast Stream, with assessment centres in every region and an emphasis on placements outside London.

Bookies Odds (Previous in Brackets):

  • Liz Truss 1/16 (nc)
  • Rishi Sunak 13/2 (nc)

mdi-timer 16 August 2022 @ 07:00 16 Aug 2022 @ 07:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tory Voters Describe Rishi as “Rich and “Out of Touch”, are “Unsure” Yet Trusting of Liz

Lord Ashcroft has published yet more polling data on the Tory leadership race, which once again shows Liz comfortably ahead amongst Tory voters. 38% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 back her over Rishi at 29%. Another third were undecided. Of the 10,000 polled in total, however, both Rishi and Liz were beaten by Starmer head-to-head…

Starmer’s lead here against Truss can be explained by name recognition. As other recent polling has showed, the more the public sees of Liz, the more they warm to her.

Arguably the most revealing part of Ashcroft’s data is the word cloud of 2019 Tory voters’ views on the candidates: the most common words used to describe Rishi were “rich”, “out of touch”, “economy”, “dishonest”, and “backstabber”. For Liz, “unsure” was by far the most common, followed by “trustworthy”, “strong”, “capable”, “bland”, and “boring”. Ashcroft himself notes:

“Those with the most positive things to say about Truss – such as “down to earth”, “trustworthy”, “capable” and “strong” were to be found close to peak support for the Tories. Positive responses for Sunak – such as “competent”, “clever” and “trustworthy” – were to be found further from the epicentre of the Conservative vote, further towards liberal territory and more removed from the strongly Brexit-supporting quadrant of the map, where words like “snake”, “backstabber” and “typical politician” were more likely to be found.”

So much for Rishi’s star power in the Red Wall, then…

mdi-timer 15 August 2022 @ 14:13 15 Aug 2022 @ 14:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Campaign Update: Liz Rules Out 2023 Election, Rishi Wins in Cheltenham

Good Friday morning. There are 22 days left of the Tory leadership campaign.

Cheltenham Husting Performance

  • Rishi seemed to win the night at a southern, LibDem-facing hustings in Cheltenham
  • Among the headlines made by Liz were:
    • Profit is not a dirty word, and appeared to rule out any future windfall tax on energy giants
    • Unequivocally ruled out an election before 2024
    • Liz will review utility regulators to ensure they’re fit for purpose in the 21st century and able to promote competition
    • Launched a renewed attack on Darlington husting host Tom Newton Dunn, specifying her media jibes were aimed at him personally for asking ‘unsound questions’ and not at the rest of the press
    • Said there is more gas in the North Sea that the UK can get on stream “pretty quickly”

In other news:

  • Today has been the quietest in ages for blue-on-blue briefings by each candidate’s team. Guido received nothing from either campaign team bar a jibe from Team Liz against Rishi’s new hosepipe policy. Read below…

Today’s new policy:

  • Less detailed than his new drought policy below, though more significant, is an op-ed in The Times today, in which he puts a number on the support he’ll give on energy bills this October: £10 billion
  • This figure is 50% of his already-announced VAT abolition on energy bills, coming in at £5 billion
  • He specifies he will find another £5 billion on top of this for additional support
  • “I can’t say to the pound and penny what help will be available because we don’t yet know the precise scale of the challenge. but I give you my assurance that as soon as we do, I will. And I will do as much as I can to help.”
  • As well as his previously announced “efficiency savings” he suggests other government projects may need to be put on pause to pay for the additional support, though he’s also prepared to consider “some limited and temporary, one-off borrowing as a last resort to get us through this winter”.

Also:

  • Rishi focuses on the zeitgeisty “boosting our resilience to drought” today, following some of the driest conditions in England since 1935
  • Rishi’s plan includes:
    • Holding water companies to account for unacceptable leakage and mains bursts. By encouraging OFWAT to use existing enforcement powers more aggressively.
    • Working with farmers to support them to invest in water management and protect their harvest. By reviewing grants put in place after Brexit to “ensure that these are incentivising the proper storage of water”.
    • Building the resilience of our water infrastructure. Fast-tracking approvals to alter existing reservoirs and water recycling facilities and for new projects.
  • Team Liz accused Rishi’s press release of hypocrisy in saying hosepipe bans are disruptive to consumers, pointing to the previous Sunday Telegraph when he was reported to be backing George Eustice’s hosepipe ban:

“It comes after George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, called in The Sunday Telegraph for more water companies to introduce urgent restrictions.

Leadership contender Rishi Sunak is understood to be supportive of the position, while his rival Liz Truss is not.”

Hustings performance:

  • Not only did Rishi sound like he won the room, the Telegraph liveblog conducted a poll that received over 73,000 votes. Rishi comfortably won it as well. Guido is a little sceptical that there were 73,000 voters.

  • We didn’t get many headlines from Rishi, bar revealing Boris hasn’t picked up his calls since resigning. Hardly a shock…
  • He also accused Liz of being the one who bows to Treasury consensus, citing her time as Chief Secretary. He says he’s the one who didn’t and is keen to push more orthodoxy-breaking as PM

Bookies Odds (Previous in Brackets):

  • Liz Truss 1/16 (nc)
  • Rishi Sunak 13/2 (nc)

mdi-timer 12 August 2022 @ 06:59 12 Aug 2022 @ 06:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Register of Interests: Tory Leadership Special

While MPs don’t have to register donations for a month after receiving them, some swottish leadership candidates have submitted their homework early in this month’s register of members’ interests. Tom Tugendhat has been especially comprehensive, registering a whopping £123,674.44 in donations for his leadership campaign. Rishi and Liz especially have been very quiet so far. Here’s the full list…

Kemi Badenoch: 

  • £2,500 Joanne Black
  • £10,000 Longrow Capital

Suella Braverman

  • £10,000 First Corporate Consultants
  • £2,000 discount on digital services from Ethan R Wilkinson Ltd

Tom Tugendhat

  • £3,000 advertising support from Policy Focus Ltd
  • £8,872.94 debate prep support from Policy Focus Ltd
  • £15,000 Policy Focus Ltd
  • £10,000 Policy Focus Ltd
  • £50,000 Ian Mukherjee
  • £25,000 Beacon Rock Ltd
  • £5,000 InvestUK Group Ltd
  • £1,000 Policy Focus Ltd
  • £5,301.50 from Policy Focus Ltd “to meet residual costs for my campaign”
  • £500 from Policy Focus Ltd

Rishi Sunak

  • £3,195 Office space donation from Bridge Consulting Ltd

While Rishi registered just over £3,000 in office space – before moving his swelling team from Westminster to Holborn – Guido also notices his name cropping up in another member’s declaration. Three days ago Mark Fletcher, Bolsover, registered that Sunak paid £5,046.82 for a fundraising dinner in his constituency. Unfortunately for Rishi, Mark has declared for Liz…

So far neither Liz, Sajid nor Nadhim have registered a penny in donations; it’s not unlikely Rishi will also have paid for much of his campaign out of his own pocket. Nadhim did make one registration however: four tickets to a Billie Eilish concert valued at £480…

mdi-timer 11 August 2022 @ 12:29 11 Aug 2022 @ 12:29 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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