Oof. On the right, we have Matthew Parris – veteran political columnist and the Times‘ resident voice of the Tory moderates. And on the, well, even righter, we have Tim Montgomerie – until recently the paper’s opinion editor, and founder of the website ConservativeHome. And they’re not happy with each other.
In Parris’ column on Saturday, headlined “A Tory schism is now all but inevitable”, responding to the defection of maverick chin Douglas Carswell from the Conservatives to Ukip, he wrote:
My fellow columnist Tim Montgomerie could not have been more wrong when he wrote in yesterday’s Times Red Box blog that “Ukip voters don’t believe that the Tory leader is serious about the referendum”. The “let’s-get-out-now” brigade in British politics have a very different fear. They fear that Mr Cameron would indeed hold his referendum and win it.
That day, Montgomerie reacted by fulminating on Twitter about how wrong his colleague is:
Matthew Parris wants PM to fight Tory Eurosceptics. Would be equivalent of Isle of Wight declaring war on England https://t.co/kfpDIkkLwP
— Tim Montgomerie (@TimMontgomerie) August 29, 2014
… and even linked to a piece with an opposing argument praising Carswell, from a rival paper:
— Tim Montgomerie (@TimMontgomerie) August 30, 2014
Montgomerie then officially responded yesterday to his colleague in the Times’ daily political briefing email, Red Box, writing:
So then Parris also took to Red Box today to blast his sparring partner:
This isn’t the first time the two right-wing heavyweights have been in the ring together. Around Christmas time last year, they had a battle in the Times online comment section about abortion, after a comment piece on the subject by Montgomerie. Here’s the exchange:
Photos: screenshots from the Times online
Talk about Tory rifts.