Theresa May once wanted to abolish the same 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs that could now seal her fate as Prime Minister, because she saw it as “archaic” according to a former adviser.
May was not yet a minister when she decided that the backbench-only group did not reflect the modern Tory Party, says the source. The 1922 Committee, chaired by Sir Graham Brady, is the body that triggers votes of no confidence in Conservative leaders. If Brady receives enough letters of no confidence in the leader, the threshold for which is 15 per cent of the parliamentary party — currently 48 letters — he must call a vote of no confidence. Last night Jacob Rees-Mogg said that he was closer than ever before to sending in his letter.
As her ministers resign, the proximate threat to May’s leadership is one that, if she had got her way, would not now exist.
The ’22, as it’s known, is a focal point for discontent among Tories with their leader. Open only to backbenchers, it is an alternative powerbase within the party that explicitly excludes the Government.
The committee holds its meetings in the fusty, oak-panelled committee room 14 in Parliament where MPs subject leaders to bear-pit style politics, either loudly banging desks or remaining in stony silence.
May is not the only leader who has wanted to reform the Committee. David Cameron in 2010 said he wanted “to change the rules of the ’22 to encompass the whole parliamentary party” and include ministers as well as backbenchers. To show contrast, he held meetings that included the Chief Whip in the modern surroundings of Portcullis House.
Where is David Davis, the former minister who everyone speaks of as the “caretaker leader” should May be toppled? The Londoner can reveal that Davis flew to Washington on Wednesday morning to “talk about trade”, and was also expected to give a speech to an American university. Asked if he would be returning early from the States, his adviser told us: “No comment.”
Arlene Foster and Kate Hoey's car-less whispers?
What was the DUP’s Arlene Foster doing “deep in conversation” with Labour’s Kate Hoey? And why did they leave the Commons in the same car? Hoey, who decried the “minimal” interest shown by her colleagues in Northern Ireland, may have been practising what she preaches, but the two are old friends, meeting in their student days. Foster says: “When I was nominated by the DUP, [Hoey] asked me if there was anything she could do to help. I suggested she should come to Enniskillen to endorse my candidature.”
Grayson Perry is a one-man stand against marketing forces capitalising on the everyday. “I stopped sending Christmas cards five to 10 years ago,” he told us yesterday at the Baillie Gifford book prize, railing: “Stop telling me how to live my life. There’s a national day for everything. Stop telling me how to wipe my f**king arse.”
Rachel Weisz, “dropping the c-bomb” during an interview in the US, made the journo uncomfortable. “In England we say it all the time,” Weisz explains. “If I’m with another Brit, we’ll say, ‘So and so is being such a c***,’ and laugh.” Cambridge grad Weisz added: “It’s an old English word. From Shakespeare. Or maybe Chaucer.”
Lily Allen 'kisses', tells... and upsets Zoë Kravitz
Actor Zoë Kravitz has accused singer Lily Allen of misrepresenting a kiss between them. In Allen’s recent memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, she recalls an occasion when “Zoë and I went out partying and ended up kissing”.
Kravitz’s memory of the event is markedly different. “If by ‘kissing’ she means, like, ‘attacking’, then yes, she kissed me,” a visibly uncomfortable Kravitz told a US talk show yesterday. “It was portrayed [in the book] like I wanted it.”
Host Andy Cohen inquired whether Kravitz had read the book. “I don’t think anybody read the book,” she replied.
Kane and company lend some Scott's Christmas sparkle
Don we now our sparkly apparel: London is glittering as Christmas approaches. Designer Christopher Kane unveiled his bright new Christmas terrace at Scott’s in Mayfair last night, celebrating the launch with friends including models Edie Campbell and Lara Stone, who walked in his very first show. “I love Christmas: I love the glitz, I love the glamour”, he told The Londoner. Mercifully he has not yet started planning his celebrations, although “I have friends who have already done everything, which is depressing. I’m very last minute.”
Among other guests at the restaurant was Amercian singer and hellraiser Courtney Love having a quiet dinner. Over at The Box in Soho, shimmering burlesque star Dita von Teese was the star guest of Absolut Elyx, and Betty Bachz, Naomi Harries and Jack Guinness sparkled at London’s Bargehouse on the South Bank, for this year’s Veuve Clicquot Widow Series.
Jo Johnson described Brexit as a “parlour game” in this week’s Spectator and offered an insight into government machinery when a minister resigns. “The Department for Transport driver knocked on our front door for the second time in half an hour and said he was collecting the red box full of ministerial papers he’d delivered minutes before,” he said. There was also “the instantaneous deletion of my policy adviser’s entire email system from her smartphone while she was in the middle of sending a message”.
Some Tory MPs are “very angry” that Theresa May met Jeremy Corbyn to discuss the deal, when she cancelled morning meetings with Peter Bone and Jacob Rees-Mogg, with “half an hour’s notice”.
Greg Hands MP celebrated his 53rd yesterday “a little irritated that this 585-page document is dated on my birthday”. So he took it to bed, explaining, “I pledged to read it before making any comment.”
Quote of the day
'We are both, it seems, leaving it late when it comes to career progression'
Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong republican, finds common ground with Prince Charles.