Back in February, Mr S pointed out that Steve Baker was on manoeuvres. The ‘Brexit hardman’ is returning to the playbook which won the war over vaccine passports by teaming up with Covid Research Group consultant Ed Barker. It’s part of a planned relaunch next month of the moribund Conservative Way Forward, at a suitably tactical Westminster location.
Given his track record in masterminding both the CRG and ERG, Baker is sure to have a more successful launch than the last time the Thatcherite pressure group was re-started. That was in July 2018 at a dinner that was somewhat overshadowed by the leak of Boris Johnson’s disparaging comments about Theresa May. Already a smorgasbord of Tory talent has been assembled for the summer shindig, due to be held in a fortnight’s time.
And it seems that Baker isn’t confining his efforts to outside Parliament. For according to today’s Times, he is now the first MP to publicly put themselves forward for the executive of the 1922 committee of backbench Tories. Baker is a critic of Johnson and called for him to resign prior to this month’s confidence vote. He argues that the committee must be ‘quick and resolute’ in changing its rules to allow another such vote if Johnson is found to have breached the ministerial code.
When Steerpike last encountered Baker, it was in the palatial surroundings of Winfield House at the American ambassador’s Fourth of July party: a suitable celebration of national independence, six years after Brexit day. The Wycombe MP joked to Mr S that he gets 'bored' when he isn't causing trouble and hinted at more manoeuvrings to come. Baker is known to have his supporters among wealthy Brexit-backing benefactors and has even been mentioned as a possible wildcard candidate, should a vacancy in the leadership arise.
Watch out Boris.