There was shock in Westminster yesterday as Graham Brady, the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, received complaints alleging Junior Government Whips were attempting to drum up support for Theresa May’s campaign according to ITV sources.
Junior Government whips are expected to act in a neutral and unbiased way at all times. Despite this, sources cited by ITV believe a junior whip organised a meeting with Remain-backing MP’s and urged them to support Theresa May’s leadership bid. One MP even commented that he was being pressurised to switch support from Boris to May, fearing he would lose out on future promotions if he didn’t comply.
It is reported that the move by the junior whips is part of the ‘Stop Boris’ movement, with David Cameron loyalists determined to ensure that Boris Johnson doesn’t reach 10 Downing Street due to him backing the Leave side in the EU Referendum.
If such rumours are true, it could lead to intense Tory infighting, with loyalists to Boris and Cameron determined to see their candidate come out on top. It remains to be seen what dirty tricks will be used, although one thing is for sure; the Conservative Party is becoming ever more divided by Boris supporters and Boris haters, with both sides determined to get the better of the other.
The use of Junior Government Whips is just one of a long list of dirty tricks that will likely be used during the Conservative Leadership Election. With the ‘Stop Boris’ team determined to damage Boris support before nominations are presented the general membership of the Conservative Party. It remains to be seen how far the ‘Stop Boris’ team are prepared to go.
The Chief Whip, Mark Harper, is not expected to have participated in any wrongdoing and will set out his defence of his colleagues to Graham Brady later today.