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2 February 2022

Commons Confidential: The Tories’ Starmer-Savile dossier

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Cynical smearer Boris Johnson ignored Downing Street counsel in falsely blaming Keir Starmer for Jimmy Savile escaping prosecution, I’ve learned. No 10 advisers cautioned a Prime Minister itching for weeks to dishonestly link the Labour leader to the paedophile that it was a bad call and risked backfiring. My snout whispered that the explosive charge, which has been peddled by the far right, features in a Conservative Party dossier prepared on Starmer in early 2020 in preparation for his election as Labour leader. The plan was suspended after Covid erupted but, said the snout, a Johnson on the rack over lockdown parties “refreshed himself of the contents” to return fire on an opponent demanding his PM’s resignation. Johnson may get dirtier. The Tory file also claims that Starmer when chief prosecutor was soft on terrorists.

The Operation Save Big Dog spreadsheet overseen by Grant Shapps to save Johnson is more than a list of names of which Conservative MPs support and oppose the Prime Minister. My source disclosed that it contains Johnson’s 2019 leadership campaign promises to individual MPs, including gongs. Those still waiting are reassured previous pledges will be honoured while fresh inducements are dangled in front of waverers. “There’ll soon be more knights on our backbenches than in Windsor,” predicted the source.

Curiously missing from the list of the Johnson regime’s known parties is any bash to celebrate the Brexit deal the PM owes his job to. There isn’t one, for example, on or around 31 December 2020 to toast the UK’s exit from the single market and customs union. “To hold leaving parties for departing staff but not leaving the EU is difficult to believe,” remarked a sceptical informant. Quite.

Footage going viral of unmasked Stoke North toddler Jonathan Gullis screaming and stamping at PMQs wasn’t his first temper tantrum. The Conservative MP made such a hash of resigning as a Tory councillor in Stratford-upon-Avon that a by-election couldn’t coincide with scheduled police commissioner contests meaning an embarrassing fortnight’s delay that cost locals £5,000. Grumpy Gullis was so livid with Tory colleagues he backed the Labour candidate in his old seat. His loyalty is volatile.

Conservative 2019er Brendan Clarke-Smith is losing friends and alienating people fast. The hyphenated reactionary was forced last year to eat humble pie for comparing England footballers taking the knee to a Nazi salute. This year the Bassetlaw bungler triggered a demonstration outside a jobs fair he promoted in Worksop’s Masonic Hall by taunting low-paid strikers in a B&Q warehouse, telling them they could reduce their cost of living by £15 a month by giving up membership of the Unite trade union. Banner-waving workers from the DIY chain think Clarke-Smith has a screw loose.

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