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Nadine Dorries’ “Plot” to hijack the Tory party conference

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

He couldn’t get her to go, now Rishi Sunak can’t shake off Nadine Dorries. The Prime Minister’s would-be assassin, accused of rarely visiting Mid Beds or speaking in parliament, is to stalk her victim in Manchester at his first – and last? – Conservative conference as party leader. Hit woman Nad will be in town to promote a vengeful book serialised in a Tory rag on the eve of the gathering, and to join other plotters at a machine-gunning Conservative Democratic Organisation dinner. Labour spinners can’t believe their luck.

Foundering stop-the-boater Suella Braverman, a Home Secretary who spent the summer trying to put deeper clear blue water between herself and Labour, is the partisan’s partisan. One of 850 guests at a dinner hosted by the Community Security Trust, a Jewish charity, at the Grosvenor Hotel recalled that “Leaky Sue” was the only person present who sat on her hands when Keir Starmer vowed to continue fighting anti-Semitism if Labour won power. “Well,” Braverman was overheard explaining, “I’m not clapping Labour being in government.” Particularly when you also want Sunak’s keys to No 10, I suppose.

[See also: Keir Starmer’s reshuffle was politically ruthless]

On a flight to Edinburgh (don’t tell the Scottish Greens) the pilot introduced himself to Gordon Brown as a former student of the Labour peer Stewart Wood, onetime Oxford tutor and Downing Street adviser during Irn Broon’s premiership. “I’m glad,” grinned the the ex-PM, “Stewart didn’t teach you how to fly.” Presbyterian wit like that deserves a one-man show at next year’s festival.

Brown protégé Douglas Alexander, who is planning a Westminster return by retaking East Lothian from the SNP, has irritated the SW1 sisterhood. Wee Dougie’s crime was to overlook Labour’s Selby by-election mastermind, Judith Cummins, in a photo from Rutherglen – the South Lanarkshire seat up for grabs following the recall of its MP, Margaret Ferrier – on the site formerly known as Twitter. The caption hailed candidate Michael Shanks and GMB union leader Gary Smith but not the Bradford South MP standing next to him, one of only two women in the blokey group. Alexander may discover female MPs regard a slight to one as a slight to all.

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[See also: Caught red handed]

This article appears in the 30 Aug 2023 issue of the New Statesman, The Great Tax Con