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Will Tory plotters sink Sunak?


After months of tedium, Sunday newsrooms everywhere rejoiced at Robert Jenrick’s resignation on Wednesday night. Finally, a return to the greatest hits: Tory splits and fevered speculation of a leadership contest. Leading the way is the Mail on Sunday which brings news of yet another food-themed conspiracy. Boris Johnson saw off the ‘pork pie plot’ but Rishi Sunak is reportedly facing the ‘pasta plotters’ who are ‘cooking up a scheme’ to oust him at a Covent Garden Italian eaterie. Penne Mordaunt for leader, anyone?

The paper declares tonight that a ‘determined cabal of MPs and political strategists’ have been meeting at the legendary Giovanni’s restaurant, a stone’s throw away from Westminster. There they have been busy turning a torrent of headlines damaging to the Prime Minister, previously described as a ‘grid of shit’, into ‘an advent calendar of shit’. Talk about a festive twist on regicide. One of the Giovanni’s plotters is apparently ‘open about wanting to “crash” Sunak’s administration in order to install a new leader’ before the election – but ‘admits to having no idea how it will happen or who should take over’. Jolly good.

Elsewhere, the Sunday Telegraph reports that the European Research Group’s (ERG) so-called ‘Star chamber’ of Conservative lawyers has concluded that Sunak’s Rwanda deportation plans are not fit for purpose. In the words of Sir Bill Cash, who chairs the panel, the legislation is insufficiently ‘watertight’ to avoid protracted legal challenges by illegal migrants seeking to remain in the UK. The ERG was able to lead 22 MPs to vote against Sunak’s Brexit plan back in March; an ominous portent for the Rwanda Bill on Tuesday. The last time a government Bill was defeated at a similar stage – the second reading – was in 1986; however, only 29 Tory MPs would need to vote against the legislation to wipe out Sunak’s majority.

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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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