1922 committee

Are some Tory candidates about to be ruled out?

The Tory leadership contest is a very crowded place – with Liz Truss overnight becoming the tenth candidate to declare (with Rehman Chishti becoming the eleventh a few minutes later). But it could be significantly slimmed down by this evening. Monday marks the day of the elections for the 1922 executive made up of Tory backbenchers. Once the new executive is in place this afternoon, they will meet to immediately decide the rules for the coming contest. To avoid the contest dragging on, the plan is to get the current field narrowed down to two by the summer recess on 21 July. The committee will discuss raising the threshold of

Warning for No. 10 as Tory MPs re-elect Graham Brady

Graham Brady has been re-elected as chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. Brady, who has been chair since 2010, saw off a strong challenge from the former minister and whip Heather Wheeler. Brady’s victory is a sign of the mood on the Tory backbenches. Wheeler’s supporters argued that Brady had been too public in his criticisms of the government’s approach to lockdown. That Brady won despite having voted against the government multiple times is a sign that Tory MPs are not in a particularly deferential mood towards No. 10 and that they want someone independent-minded to represent them. Several MPs told me they were voting for Brady because

Revealed: David Cameron’s plan to bring back hunting

When Bill Clinton was asked if he had ever smoked marijuana he uttered the infamous cop-out that he had smoked it but had not inhaled. David Cameron’s position on hunting has been similar. He cannot deny that he once rode to hounds with his friends in the beautiful English countryside where he spends weekends. But he has never said much about the experience other than it was terribly challenging to stay on the horse. Rather than saying ‘I enjoyed it’, he has always been careful to give the impression that hunting was going on around him, so he did it, and he survived to tell the tale. But he didn’t

Boris’s U-turn defence

Is Boris Johnson’s government jumping from one crisis to the next or is No. 10’s agenda progressing roughly as planned? It depends who you ask. After a difficult few weeks, there are plenty of Tory MPs who believe it’s the former. Many of whom don’t even feel the need to keep their grievances anonymous.  Charles Walker MP recently used an interview to complain that it was becoming ‘increasingly difficult’ for Tory MPs to defend government policy: ‘too often it looks like this government licks its finger and sticks it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing’. His colleague Bernard Jenkin MP made a similar observation – saying a pattern appears to

The next Tory leader will have even less flexibility than May on Brexit

In Choosing A Leader, what remains one of the best books published on British leadership contests (although I appreciate this is a niche market), Len Stark argued that the procedures parties used when selecting their leaders rarely made much of a difference. With a handful of exceptions, he demonstrated that the same candidate would have won, no matter how the party went about making its choice. Parties chose candidates who will unite them, he argued, after which what mattered was who was most electorally appealing or most competent – and they did that regardless of the rulebook. Yet there were exceptions, not all of them inconsequential. Stark’s book was published

Theresa May: We have selection in state schools already, selection by house price

Theresa May received the traditional desk banging reception when she addressed the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. May pleased Tory MPs by emphasising that they  would have more opportunity to feed into policy making process now through George Freeman and the policy board and the green papers that will—once again—precede white papers. But what most excited Tory MPs was what May said about opportunity and grammar schools. May said that she would give a speech on a 21st century education system soon, explaining how selective schools–in other words, grammars–fit into the mix. Strikingly, she defended an ‘element of selection’ arguing that there is selection already in the system, and it

Revealed: Theresa May and James Cleverly’s heated exchange at meeting of the 1922

Over the weekend James Cleverly made the news after he admitted to smoking marijuana and watching porn in his youth, during an interview on Radio 5 live. The newly elected Tory MP also gave a surprisingly honest answer when it came to a game of ‘snog, marry, avoid’. Cleverly said he would choose to snog Theresa May, marry Yvette Cooper and avoid Isabel Oakeshott, the co-author of Call Me Dave. While Cleverly’s admissions don’t appear to have done his career much harm yet, Steerpike understands that one of his answers did come back to haunt him when Cleverly came face-to-face with the Home Secretary at Wednesday’s meeting of the 1922 Committee. Theresa May was speaking at

A chipper Cameron begins to woo the Tory backbenchers

A very chipper David Cameron has just given an impromptu press conference to journalists outside the 1922 Committee. He joked that there were more government jobs to go round than he was expecting, and didn’t seem that sad about the demise of the Lib Dems. His priority, he said, was implanting the manifesto, a copy of which he waved at us before going in to rapturous applause. But when asked whether he now fancied standing again in 2020, he said ‘I maintain all the things I said’. He also gently teased journalists for being ‘too nice’ about the Labour campaign when they were ‘weren’t breaking through’ on the key things

Can David Cameron square the 1922 Committee on another coalition?

As well as trying to prepare voters for what may happen after 8 May, David Cameron needs to make sure he has his party on board for the ride after the election, too. The 1922 Committee will need to approve a second coalition, but the hope in the Cameron camp is that this will be made easier by making the approval a show of hands from Tory MPs, rather than the secret ballot 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady wants. Two interesting points that loyalists advance is that the Lib Dems approved the 2010 Coalition with a show of hands and that many prominent 1922 Committee Executive members were against the

Exclusive: Senior Tories to plot election response on Friday

Tory MPs will plot their party’s response to the election result and any likely coalition partnerships in a meeting next Friday, 8 May at 4pm, Coffee House has learned. The powerful executive of the 1922 Committee will meet that afternoon in order to prepare their demands for the Prime Minister and discuss any initial outlines of a coalition agreement between the Tories and the Lib Dems that have already been passed on to them. They will be preparing for a meeting of the full party on Monday, where they will set out their demands in full. We have known for some time what the demands of the Committee will be

David Cameron tells Tory MPs: Defend our record on the NHS and fighting poverty

David Cameron has just addressed the last meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers in this parliament. He was given the traditional desk banging reception. Indeed, the loyal, pre-election tone of the meeting was set when John Baron, for a long time viewed as Ukip defection risk by senior Tories, announced that he had put money on a Tory majority. After paying tribute to the Tory MPs who are stepping down at this election, Cameron began his pre-election rallying call. He told the MPs, don’t let people forget the mess that he inherited. He then, to the surprise of some in the room, talked about the health service in

Tory MPs split over how far to push English votes for English laws

Tory backbenchers have just finished a long meeting about English Votes for English Laws. The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers have just spent the last hour and a bit debating the matter with William Hague in attendance. The question at issue was whether the Tories should bar all MPs other than English ones from voting on English-only issues. Or, whether they should limit their plans to only allowing English MPs to vote on English laws at committee stage and giving them a veto before third reading. The leadership is thought to favour the latter option and Malcolm Rifkind and Ken Clarke both spoke up for it. But there was considerable

How long will Tory unity on EVEL last?

The 1922 Committee meets at 2pm today, and William Hague will address it. The meeting was originally arranged to discuss the post-referendum settlement for Scotland and England, and English votes for English laws, but Iraq may well dominate the session given tomorrow’s recall. Those MPs who weren’t sufficiently fortunate or troublesome to have been invited to the Chequers summit on the English settlement on Monday will get an update and a chance to pitch their view in. The party seems, by and large, pretty happy with the way Number 10 has handled this matter so quickly, and the amount of contact they have had from the whips. But the peace may yet

Exclusive: Nigel Evans: I’ll be back

Mr Steerpike can exclusively reveal that former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans is to run for a senior position on the 1922 Committee executive. The recently vindicated Tory MP remains popular on the backbenches, and has been keeping a deliberately high profile since being cleared on nine counts of sexual abuse. The all-powerful committee is the repository of backbench opinion and sets the agenda when it comes to internal Tory politicking. Sources familiar with the Evans bid are quietly confident that their friend will become a significant player in Tory circles again, come decision day. Jason McCartney, the former Liberal Democrat candidate and journalist-turned Tory MP, is also running for a top

Will David Cameron delay the reshuffle to prolong MPs’ good behaviour?

After addressing the 1922 Committee this evening, David Cameron will be holding a reception at Number 10 for the good MPs who obeyed the whips and made the requisite number of visits to the Newark by-election. One of the carrots that was dangled in front of MPs as they trundled up to Patrick Mercer’s old constituency was the prospect of a reshuffle. Comments such as ‘senior party figures will be observing how many times each of you visits’ were dropped into conversations and emails. Some MPs showed me the sarky replies they drafted which involved imaginative suggestions for the whips about what they could do with their league table of

Downing Street has forgotten that its business is politics

The Sunday papers resound with the sound of Tory MPs thinking aloud about how to deal with ill-discipline: principally expenses and harassment. On harassment, the Sunday Times reports the 1922 Committee is considering its own regulation plans after deciding that placing the complaints procedure in the hands of whips might lead to scandals being ‘hushed up’ because politics would win out over justice. Committee chairman Graham Brady has said: ‘We have taken independent advice and had preliminary conversations with Acas [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] about how an appropriate grievance procedure might best be structured.’ On expenses, Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith make the case, yet again, for voters

Cameron to 1922 Committee: We must tell voters a hung parliament would threaten our radicalism

David Cameron received a rapturous banging of desks at the final meeting of the year for the 1922 Committee this evening. My sources have given me a run-down of what was said. Backbenchers were, I hear, very cheered by some of his words, particularly on his 2015 strategy. The Prime Minister told his MPs that the important thing to avoid is fighting Labour on their own territory. That means resisting being dragged into ding-dongs about payday loans and other pet issues that Labour likes to raise (the problem with this is that it creates a vacuum for Labour to invent its own description of what the nasty Tories think when

Influential 1922 Committee chair backs rebel immigration call

The swell of support continues for Nigel Mills’ amendment to the Immigration Bill which would most likely land the British government in court by trying to extend transitional controls on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants to 2018. I have learned that Graham Brady, influential chair of the 1922 Committee, has now signed the amendment too, and the rebels organising behind it tell me they now have more than 40 backers. The list now includes a number of 1922 Committee executive members, including Nick de Bois, John Whittingdale, Charles Walker and Jason McCartney. A number of Conservative MPs who have never rebelled before (yes, they exist) are considering signing the amendment because they

Patrick Mercer resigns Tory whip ahead of Panorama programme

Patrick Mercer has resigned the Tory whip. But despite his repeated and outspoken criticisms of David Cameron it is nothing to do with the Prime Minister. Rather, Mercer appears to have been embarrassed by a Panorama/Daily Telegraph investigation. In a statement, Mercer has said that he is considering legal action over the coming programme which, he says, alleges he broke parliamentary rules but that ‘to save my Party embarrassment, I have resigned the Conservative Whip. I have decided not to stand at the General Election’. What remains to be seen is if Mercer quits the Commons before then which would prompt a by-election. Given Ukip’s strength at the moment, a

The court threat that stopped David Cameron from abolishing the 1922 committee

When David Cameron spoke at the 90th anniversary party of the 1922 committee earlier this week, he used glowing terms to praise its chairman Graham Brady and urge backbenchers to ‘stick to our guns’. Anyone would think he hadn’t tried to abolish it in effect by allowing ministers to attend and vote shortly after the Coalition had formed. That the Tory leadership backed down on this, in spite of winning the vote that would have introduced the change, was well-reported at the time. But one of the key things that precipitated the climbdown has been a secret until now. Bill Cash, one of the MPs most enraged by Cameron’s attempt