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Was “Comeback” Cameron second choice for Foreign Secretary?

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

With public interest groups, Labour attack dogs and investigative hacks forensically combing through Lord Dodgy Dave of Greensill’s financial dealings, we needn’t wait until the election to discover whether Rishi Sunak’s desperate throw of the dice was a double six, or a two and a one in appointing Cameron as Foreign Secretary. Rushing Comeback Cam through vetting is whetting appetites. The week-long plot involving William Hague – whispered to have rejected returning to his old post, leaving a former prime minister who lost Europe second choice for the job – nearly shed its element of surprise. No 10 bragged to a Tory last week it “had an ace in the hand” to distract from right-wing hate-inciter Cruella Braverman’s sacking. They, alas, couldn’t crack the game plan. Perhaps it’s worth remembering in poker the ace can be a low as well as high card.

[See also: Michael Gove is considering stepping down to avoid a “Portillo moment”]

Ex-PMs Boris Johnson and Liz Truss sipped white burgundy and claret at Nadine Dorries’ book launch on the same evening a third, Lord Dodgy Dave, toasted his good fortune. Peerless Dorries wears working-class Scouse roots on her chiffon sleeve. The monied, members-only 5 Hertford Street private club in Mayfair she chose is where a number of interviews were conducted for her tome, which claims Johnson was the victim of a political assassination plot. “More like suicide by lying,” spat a hostile Conservative who stayed home to wash his dog’s hair rather than attend.

The new Tory chair Richard Holden’s remit includes enthusing party members for the battle ahead. Ironic, then, that he miserably failed to excite activists in the redrawn seat of Bridlington and the Wolds a few days before his shuffling. East Yorkshire’s blue brigade preferred local lad and pig industry lobbyist Charlie Dewhirst over the carpetbagger from Durham. With Holden’s seat heading for the boundary commission graveyard, MPs fear he’s measuring the curtains in their backyards while on drum-banging visits. But the rumour is a peerage was dangled to keep colleagues’ seats off the menu.

Labour MPs are scratching their heads over what effect, if any, the end of the Angela Rayner-Sam Tarry relationship will have on his quest for a new seat after a controversial deselection in Ilford South. One view is a reassignment becomes less complicated; the other that no longer stepping out with the shadow deputy prime minister could leave him ignored. The personal is political, after all.

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Dentist Anas Sarwar’s gleaming reputation in the wider labour movement sees Scottish Labour’s leader crossing the border to Newcastle next month to be star speaker at a Durham miners’ gala fundraiser. Digging deep for British unionism and trade unionism.

[See also: The Conservative ship is going down – save yourselves!]

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This article appears in the 15 Nov 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Desperate Measures

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