Support 110 years of independent journalism.

Tory plotters thicken as Sunak clings on

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Behind an uneasy truce with battered Rishi Sunak, the Tory plotters are continuing to arm themselves for an assault on the leadership, whenever a foray is triggered. My snout screams three are particularly brazen. Mordaunt offers Penny’s Package – of a fundraiser, and a plug at business questions. Shapps’ Spreadsheet includes an invitation to an online campaigning session hosted by Grant himself. And the Patel Patrol involves Priti door-knocking with MPs, canvassing a vote for her as leader as well as the party at the general election. Labour is the official opposition, but Sunak’s real enemies sit on his own benches and in the cabinet.

The latest whisper is that Tory defector Dan Poulter may be rewarded with a peerage by Keir Starmer after the MP stands down in Central Suffolk. Labour maintains nothing was promised, but there is a recent precedent in Quentin Davies. He was cloaked in ermine after switching from the Tories to Labour in 2007, toiling as a junior defence minister under Gordon Brown along the way.

New Ronnie Barker-style thick glasses didn’t see Labour wisecracker Jonathan “Sparkle” Ashworth playing entirely for laughs when calling the balls in a Doncaster bingo hall. To the titters of regular players he described “88” as two people rather than the traditional two fat ladies. To the immense relief of Sparkle, the ball he feared most, 69, didn’t come up.

Treading a path well worn by shamed and failed politicians, Simon Danczuk is lobbying for the fur industry. The former Labour MP, who finished sixth for Reform in February’s Rochdale by-election, invited the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, for dinner. Haigh, a vegetarian, understandably declined. What could be less appetising than listening over a meal – steak, perhaps? – to an opponent extolling the value of killing animals for their skins?

Worryingly, no previous experience is required for a Lords vs Commons shoot-out at Bisley in July. Old Etonian Conservative hereditary peer Ralph Lucas informed potential gunmen that most disabilities apart from bad eyesight could be accommodated. Unpractised octogenarian peers, armed with rifles, firing at targets up to 1,000 yards away sounds pretty scary to colleagues playing it safe by seeking shelter in the Cholmondeley Room.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Starmer fat-shamer Peter Mandelson was seen preening himself at a guest appearance in the Garrick, the Labour grandee seemingly unperturbed by the club’s row over admitting women members. With annual membership fees reported to be around £1,600, it could be the ideal place for Mandelson to “shed a few pounds” himself.

[See also: Westminster parties engulfed by a cost-of-conference crisis]

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article : , ,

This article appears in the 08 May 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Doom Scroll