The coronavirus epidemic is starting to have some irritating side effects for MPs, who are suddenly seeing Whatsapp activity shoot through the roof as a result of their isolated colleagues increased phone activity from their home. Guido hears that hundreds of messages are barraging Tory MPs from other Tory MPs sent both late at night and early in the morning, pelting other MPs and patient SpAds with questions and suggestions. One MP tells Guido they’re glad Maria Caulfield is going off to work in the NHS because it might mean she’ll contribute less in their groups…
Nadine Dorries couldn’t make the ERG’s 6pm meeting last night and so instead has sent a list of seven key points she would have liked to have raised. She hits out at members who have “let the ERG down as a group”, those who see themselves as “above” sending a letter, and those who are constantly briefing journalists.
Read the mammoth message in full here:
At 6pm, I will be chairing the finance bill on the floor of the house and therefore, cannot attend the meeting.If I were there, I would be very, very keen to speak and make the following points. I would be grateful if the chairman would acknowledge my comments during the meeting.
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?
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…
Claire Perry is not impressed that her WhatsApps were leaked to Guido earlier, admonishing the leaker for sending us the messages. Her message complaining about the leak has now also been leaked to Guido:
She has left the group in response.
It is all kicking off in a WhatsApp group of Tory MPs, with ultra-Remainers defending Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and Brexiteers branding it a “betrayal”. Leave supporter Sheryll Murray told the “Digital Comms” WhatsApp group of Tory MPs that the party needed to find examples of businesses that are “not biased towards remain”, only to be told by hardcore Remainer Antoinette Sandbach that none exist. As Antoinette continued to patronise her colleagues on Brexit, Steve Baker left the group:
Another big Remainer, Claire Perry, who once dubbed Brexiteers “swivel-eyed” and “jihadis”, outlined her support for the PM’s deal and warned Brexiteer critics that they are risking a general election. Sandbach also gave her backing to the government’s white paper. Tells you all you need to know.
As Remainers ganged up on Sheryll Murray, Nadine Dorries interjected to accuse the PM of “a betrayal of everyone who voted leave”. In a devastating assessment of the white paper, Nads cited the polls over the last few days to argue the Chequers plan “will be the end of Conservatives in government”. Sheryll agreed: “You are so right”.
Still Sandbach wasn’t finished, hitting back that “swing voters win elections” and claiming the Tories failed to secure a majority in 2017 because “we ignored 48%”. Sheryll zinged back: “Yes they will swing from us to not voting”. Angry cat emoji.
A change of subject, mercifully, from Andrew Bridgen. He suggested writing a letter to the PM to recommend a knighthood for England manager Gareth Southgate. Peter Bone gave his blessing, before Steve Brine burned them both: “Good idea… but can I suggest the messenger is as important as the message”. Ouch.
Eventually Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis told them to pack it all in. To the relief of Caroline Nokes:
All is not well…