Jacob Rees-Mogg: He doesn’t have a moustache to twirl villainously, so he had to adjust his glasses instead.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has supported his harsh words in Parliament with hard action – he asked why he should not write to the chair of the Conservative backbench 1922 committee indicating no confidence in Theresa May and, having clearly received no good answer, he has done so.
And he published the letter, so we can all see his reasons.
He wrote: “The draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto.
“It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative party and the 1922 committee this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader of the party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.”
After Rees-Mogg, it seems likely 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady will receive a deluge.
Already Conservative MP Henry Smith has submitted his letter to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, requesting a vote of no confidence in Mrs May.
As I write this, commentators on the BBC News channel are saying the number of “no confidence” letters will top the 48 needed to trigger a vote.
Mrs May might not last as Prime Minister until the end of the week – and it’s Thursday.
A crunch meeting with disgruntled Tory backbenchers proved to be nothing of the sort for Theresa May in what members of her own party claimed – before it happened – was a “rigged” event, with loyalists in key places to “desk bang and cheer”.
Mrs May was said to have been summoned to the meeting of the Tory 1922 Committee on October 24 in order to persuade MPs not to submit the required 48 letters demanding a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership – to plead for her career, in effect.
But the meeting showed no evidence of any threat to her. Nadine ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries reckons it was stage managed by the Conservative Party whips – all of whom were, apparently, in attendance:
PM attending ‘22 meeting Already rigged by the whips Loyalist Chequers supporters will be dispersed about the room to desk bang and cheer. The whips will communicate via WhatsApp. The first questioner will already have been agreed and the questions planted It’s a PR farce
Mrs May turned up, gave a speech, and walked away with her position intact:
Read earlier that the 1922 meeting decision was made hours before the meeting began. Theresa May will be lauded & applauded, all go home. Gravytrain MPs protecting their existance. https://t.co/6qLbBs2syz
Some critics have seen this as proof of what we’ve seen many times before – that Tories are all talk. If their Parliamentary majority is under threat, they will always defer to whoever happens to be the leader:
I guess a lot of Journos will be disappointed tonight. There they were,hanging around outside the 1922 Committee room,with tomorrow's headline ready to be filed. Ha! nothing happened. Just some banging of desks.
See, for opponents of Mrs May, this is a mathematics problem.
A rebellion by the backbenchers requires 48 of them to send letters, demanding a “no confidence” vote in Theresa May, to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee. After that, 160 Tory MPs would have to vote against her.
That’s a tall order!
A better bet would be voting against Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal, when it finally comes back to Parliament – and in whatever form it finally takes. Only around 15 votes would be needed to achieve that defeat, and it is possible that she would not recover.
But there is a random element: A small number of Labour Brexiters might defy their party’s whip to support Mrs May.
They could do it to ensure that the UK leaves the EU – or they could do it to ensure that the Tories remain stuck with their lame-duck leader, who will turn public opinion further and further against them, the longer she stays in Downing Street.
Neither would be wonderful for the United Kingdom, but these are Labour Brexiters, so that is hardly likely to enter into their calculations.
The end result is that Mrs May remains the titular – but ineffective – head of the Conservative Party and the Tory government, but her position remains precarious in the extreme.
As for the 1922 committee, and its failure to carry out a simple function for the good of the UK – here’s a tweet that sums it up perfectly (apologies for the naughty word at the end):
Backstabbers: This is an old image but you get the point (even if Theresa May didn’t at the time).
Theresa May’s political career is edging ever-closer to the abyss after a stormy Cabinet meeting over her failure to find a solution to the Irish border problem and the associated threat of a “no-deal” Brexit.
A group of ministers including Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss and Michael Gove demanded a time limit on any “backstop” – a temporary arrangement allowing extra time to find a way to keep a ‘soft’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if one cannot be reached before the UK leaves the EU. But another group including David Lidington insisted that the EU would not agree an exit deal without an indefinite “backstop”.
In other words, they spent an extraordinarily long meeting squabbling among themselves.
That is exactly the way Conservative backbenchers have come to view these debates. And, with Mrs May summoned to a meeting of the backbench 1922 committee today (October 24), at which she is expected to plead for their support, it seems unlikely that she will get it.
Instead, she is more likely to find that the number of letters demanding a vote of “no confidence” against her, sent to 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, has increased beyond the 48 necessary to precipitate such a vote.
It seems MPs in the “silent centre” – not deep in the Brexit fight, as Beth Rigby characterises them below – have lost patience with the incessant arguments among their leaders and are now keen to end the dithering by ending the tenure of their leader:
Not one of the ‘usual suspects’, a centrist Tory tells me they’re sending a letter of No Confidence to Brady. This is a shift. Before it was those deep in the Brexit fight who wanted to oust her. If those in ‘silent centre’ now ready to send letters, she really is in danger zone
Mrs May must be regretting the use of that 95 per cent figure. It was used in a Commons debate on Monday to suggest that the Brexit deal is nearly complete – and a Labour MP immediately observed that the Titanic completed 95 per cent of its journey without incident (and we all know how that story ended).
The claim isn’t even true, though – according to Labour (and Remainer) MEP Richard Corbett:
When the govt says the #Brexit deal is 95% done, it’s talking of only HALF the deal, namely the divorce arrangements. The other (more important) half is the yet-to-be-reached agreement on future relations, covering trade, security, research & a multitude of small practical things https://t.co/WWUSkaWeGd
So: No deal with the EU can be supported in Parliament because the Cabinet cannot agree on it – and in any case there is much more yet to be resolved.
Backbenchers’ minds will be focused on the reputational damage to their party if a “no-deal” Brexit takes place. Mr Lidington reportedly fears it cause as much harm as Black Wednesday, when the Pound crashed out of the then-European Exchange Rate Mechanism under a Conservative government, wrecking the Tories’ then-reputation as a party of economic competence.
If Mrs May stays and Brexit is fumbled, the Conservatives could be out of office for at least a generation. Considering the current state of the party’s membership – whose average age is well past 70 – they may never recover.
These are valid reasons for backbenchers to seek Mrs May’s removal, and they may decide that is the best course of action at the meeting.
Or will she fob them off with more flannel about how well her plans are proceeding?
*I know there’s a separate row about the use of metaphors involving physical violence in our political discourse. But references to Conservative leaders being stabbed in the back by their own MPs go back at least as far as Edward Heath, the first Conservative prime minister in This Writer’s lifetime. Margaret Thatcher did the dirty on him, as Geoffrey Howe later did to her.
Nobody needs any prizes for suggesting that Mrs May will put her own political career above the good of the rest of the United Kingdom. She is the most blatantly selfish prime minister who ever pretended to be a public servant.
But her continued leadership of the Conservative Party – and the government – could be cut short on Wednesday.
She has been summoned to a meeting of the Conservative backbench 1922 committee amid warnings that the number of MPs who have written to call for a vote of “no confidence” in her leadership is dangerously close to the 48 needed to trigger such a vote.
Apparently Mrs May has not yet agreed to attend but she has been warned that she will only make a confidence vote more likely if she gives her backbenchers the cold shoulder. One MP is said to have told the Mail on Sunday that she should “bring her own noose” in any case.
According to Metro, “Andrew Bridgen, another Tory critic of Mrs May, told the newspaper: ‘This week Theresa May will find that she is drinking in the last chance saloon and the bad news for her is that the bar is already dry.
“‘If she doesn’t turn up to the ’22 that will only make the letters go in even faster.’
“A source told The Sun: ‘There is no orchestrated campaign to remove her but there is mounting dissatisfaction in every quarter.”
It is her failure to negotiate an acceptable Brexit deal with the EU27 countries that has put Mrs May’s career in danger.
Last week she attended a summit at which no progress was made, despite last-minute talks the weekend before.
The MP she sent to carry out those negotiations was current Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. Here’s a quick precis of his views:
Mr Raab told Sky News: “Now is the time to play for the team”, adding: “We are at the end stage of the negotiation.
“It is understandable that there are jitters on all sides of this debate.
“We need to hold our nerve. The end is in sight in terms of a good deal, the prize we want.”
He would say that, wouldn’t he? Mrs May chose him to negotiate and he made a mess of it so, if she goes, he could go too.
Also supportive of Mrs May was Robert Halfon. He told Sky‘s Sophy Ridge: “I say to the people giving those quotes, this is not the way to change things.”
He said the Tories had a “serious image problem” and warned that voters only associate the party with austerity or Brexit.
But he dismissed suggestions it was time for Mrs May to go: “I don’t think a change of leader would particularly help, particularly in the middle of Brexit,” he said.
Those are all the pro-May comments I have at the moment. Let’s see what her detractors say.
Here’s a source quoted by The Sun: “There is no orchestrated campaign to remove her but there is mounting dissatisfaction in every quarter.
“Theresa’s credibility is sinking fast. MPs are beginning to wonder that if she can’t deliver a deal with the EU, if she is up to the job of taking us out without one.
“If you think the current state of affairs is bad, just imagine what it would be like if there’s no deal. Brexit would be at stake – and so would the security of the nation.”
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis wrote in the Mail on Sunday that Mrs May had “managed to anger not just Leavers but ardent Remainers as well”.
He said that the EU has plenty to lose if the UK crashes out of the bloc without a deal in March, adding: “We should not allow ourselves to be bullied by the EU.”
We have already discussed the words of Johnny Mercer, of course.
And Brextremist Suella Braverman, whose own views on the subject were demolished here, has refused to say she’ll support Mrs May in any vote.
She was interviewed by the BBC’s John Pienaar. Here‘s the Mirror‘s account of the confrontation:
“Mr Pienaar asked Mrs Braverman: “If it comes to a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister, can you say now that you would vote for her?”
“She replied: “I’m supporting the prime minister, this is my job, I’m here in the government. I’m very pleased to be working in the government.”
“Pienaar tried again: “Can you say now you would vote for her?”
“And again, Braverman dodged the question: “I am supporting the PM as unequivocal and I’m really clear about that and I want the Prime Minister to continue in her job.
“”I’m here to support her in delivering Brexit and I have the confidence in her to do that.”
“The radio host repeated his question a third and final time: “I’m sorry to be unbelievably pedantic, I know you’re supporting the Prime Minister, but can you say after me, ‘if there’s a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister I will vote for her'”
“But still, Braverman refused to answer: “I don’t think there will be a vote of confidence in the PM and I am supporting the Prime Minister unequivocally and I want her to get on with the job to deliver Brexit and I know that she will be doing that.””
Given her record, Mrs May must know that the best thing she can do for the people of the UK is quit.
Do you think she’ll accept the evidence and go quietly?
Nor do I. Buy popcorn – this could be a fascinating week’s viewing.
Cheats prospering: Theresa May and 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady, to whom she has awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours, for no reason at all.
How utterly repellent.
Weakling prime minister Theresa May knows she cannot expect her MPs to support her leadership – because she is a failure – so she is trying to bribe powerful Tories into propping her up.
She has given honours to half the ruling board of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee – the organisation that represents backbench Tory MPs.
Two of them get knighthoods, while a third is made a dame.
Notably, all three are Brexiters. But then, none of the ruling committee support remaining in the European Union – all have voted against it. Former Treasurer (until he was kicked out of Parliament in June) Stewart Jackson, responding to a tweet criticising the Leave campaign for lying to the public, is famous for writing, “Suck it up”. What a nice chap! And he is now special advisor and chief of staff to David Davis at the Department for Exiting the European Union.
Graham – now Sir Graham – Brady distinctly lacks the necessary qualifications for being a knight of the realm. Take a look at the list of his misbehaviours, courtesy of Vice.com:
“When he’s not influencing the government, you may find Brady leading opposition to the legalisation of weed or taking a £8,600 fact-finding trip to the Cayman Islands. In 2011, it was revealed that Brady still employed his wife, Victoria, as a senior parliamentary assistant on a salary of over £40,000 a year. This is despite the fact that, in 2009, the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended banning the practice of employing family members, describing it as “not consistent with modern employment practice designed to ensure fairness in recruitment, management of staff and remuneration”.”
Cheryl Gillan “was also embarrassed during the 2009 expenses scandal. Amongst other things, Gillan charged the taxpayer £4.47 for dog food; claimed more money for her gas bill than it was actually worth; and over-claimed £1,884 on her mortgage.”
Christopher Chope, also knighted, also a Brexiter, and also mentioned in the extract below, is well known to readers of This Site for filibustering private members’ bills. He notably talked out a bill to outlaw “revenge evictions” – because it is not in his interest as a private landlord. He repeatedly blocked a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances. He also talked out a bill to end hospital parking charges for carers. He refers to House of Commons staff as “servants”.
His knighthood, awarded “for political and public service”, is nothing less than a garish and vulgar insult to the people of the United Kingdom – as are the honours to the other MPs mentioned in this article.
Theresa May might think she is buying support – but she is also providing ammunition to those of us who would be rid of her corrupt, inept and unforgivable dictatorship.
Theresa May has moved to shore up her future as Tory leader by giving top honours to half of the ruling board of the Conservative party’s influential 1922 committee.
Three of the committee’s six-strong board have received senior honours: Graham Brady, the chairman, and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the honorary treasurer, are knighted; while Cheryl Gillan, a vice chairman, is made a dame.
The support of the 1922 committee is vital for Mrs May to deliver on her promise to serve a full five year term as party leader.
Sir Graham is listened to closely by the leadership and would play a crucial role in any future leadership contest, which would be triggered if 15 per cent of the party’s MPs – 48 at present – write to him requesting one.
All three backed Leave in the European Union referendum, as did a fourth Conservative MP to be honoured, veteran former minister Christopher Chope who receives a knighthood.
Here are a couple of items on the Guardian website that are worth putting side-by-side:
John O’Farrell, Labour’s losing candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, has written about how uncomfortable it was to be subjected to the “two-minute hate” on the social media – and David Cameron has been given a two-month warning by members of his party.
If he doesn’t revive their fortunes in the budget or the May local government elections, he could be out on his ear.
“And not a moment too soon!” I hear you cry, as the One Nation that Ed Miliband wants to build.
Apparently it will take 46 letters to Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative Party’s backbench 1922 committee, to trigger a leadership contest.
Already, according to tweets by Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant, there are rumblings from the lower ranks. “The Conservative voice is muffled and not crisp,” he tweeted. “It does not clearly project Conservative core policies or principles.”
Those of us who follow developments in social security legislation would probably agree, adding that they seem more like Nazi core policies (I make this point for a twofold purpose – firstly because it’s accurate; secondly because it really riles right-wingers who think Coalition benefits policy is a good idea). The trouble with that is, we can be sure as mustard that Mr Fabricant would urge a move to the right.
What is more right-wing than a Nazi?
Don’t bother trying to answer that – Mr Fabricant is likely to be about as significant to future Tory policy as a snowflake is to the temperature on the sun. He has undermined the Tory plan to play down the significance of being beaten by UKIP and the comedy Prime Minister’s insistence that he will not leave (what he seems to think is) the centre ground.
Of course, the budget is not Gideon George Osborne’s strong suit – let’s face it, the economy isn’t his strong suit and he’s supposed to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer – so the immediate future isn’t looking good for Call-Me-(Please)-Dave. Mr 0 was scraping the barrel with the pasty tax last year, and after his ideologically-based economic tinkering forced the nation into the longest depression in decades, it seems unlikely he will have anything revolutionary to pull from that famous red briefcase.
That leaves the local elections in May. Mid-term local elections – and, as the Tories told us within the past 24 hours, sitting governments rarely do well during mid-term elections.
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