Steerpike Steerpike

Now Steve Baker goes for Penny

CARLOS JASSO/AFP via Getty Images

It’s all getting a bit heated in the Tory leadership wars. Fresh from the sweltering heat of the Churchill War Rooms, Steve Baker has marched into the LBC studios with his blood clearly boiling. The ‘Brexit hardman’ went on Andrew Marr’s show tonight and launched a howitzer at fellow Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt. Baker, who is backing Suella Braverman of the European Research Group, was asked to assess Mordaunt’s credentials. He replied:

I’m sorry Penny but where were you when I needed you? She was supposed to be a Brexiteer. And when I was a bruised, you know, beaten captain in the trenches, Penny was staying in the Cabinet along with others. They could have resigned, they could have made a difference and they chose to stay in the cabinet and vote for a deal that would have destroyed the Conservative party… in the end, she just wasn’t there when I needed her. And actually, it’s not that I needed her. She made the wrong grand strategic call. And she didn’t fight for what she said she believed in. And now she wants my support? Well, I’m afraid she can’t have it.

Ouch. Baker was also asked about the likelihood of a stitch up between the leading candidates to stop the final round from going to the membership. The Wycombe MP replied that ‘It would be contemptuous of the membership to try to do that’ and suggested that the 1922 committee was thinking of changing the rules to ensure that if one of the final two candidates drops out then the third placed candidate would take their place. The Covid Recovery Group frontman also took aim at Michael Gove, claiming that:

‘I understand and I could be wrong but I am given to understand quite authoritatively from a candidate that Michael Gove started with Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove is now backing Kemi Badenoch.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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