WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, who has not slept since June 22, reports on the latest shenanigans from the borough’s elected representatives at the Palace of Varieties
Chris Philp and Gavin Barwell, Croydon’s two Conservative MPs, have today come out in support of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in her campaign to become the next leader of the Tory Party, and therefore the next Prime Minister of Little England (formerly known as Great Britain).
Or maybe they haven’t.
It was Harold Wilson who said that “a week’s a long time in politics”. But the former Labour PM was speaking in an age before we had landed a man on the moon, when there were still steam trains and there was still something called “British industry”. In these days of Snapchat, British astronauts and Periscope, it seems that more happens in five 2016 minutes than might have happened in seven leisurely paced days in the 1960s.
Thus this morning’s announcement that Michael “I’m not capable of being Prime Minister” Gove would be running for the Tory leadership, followed immediately by Boris Johnson’s late-late decision not to enter the contest, has managed to add the latest dramatic double-twist to a week in which the nation’s politics appears to be on the brink of complete collapse.
As Inside Croydon reported earlier this week, Dodgy Dave Cameron, still for now the Prime Minister, and his Government had been doing their utmost to stop his fellow Old Etonian Bullingdon Club member, Johnson.
This followed the part-time ex-Mayor’s fickle decision to back Brexit in the EU Referendum, apparently for no other reason that to tee-up his bid to become party leader. That ambition is thwarted, for now at least, in an episode which the ever-modest Johnson will surely utilise in the future to draw further comparisons between his own political career and that of Churchill (Winston, that is, not the insurance nodding dog).
Conservative Home, the Tory-backing website founded by Lord Cashcroft, was reporting today, right up to 3pm, that both Philp and Barwell, the MPs for Croydon South and Croydon Central respectively, are both supporting Theresa May’s leadership bid. ConHome’s tally gives May the backing of 62 other Tory MPs, almost three times more than her nearest rival, the Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.
Except that, strictly speaking, as a Government whip, Barwell is supposed to be neutral in such internal party contests.
Or at least, that’s what he was telling a Redhill-based small circulation newspaper today. Who should we believe, eh?
Philp, meanwhile, publicly declared his support for May via Twitter just before 9am.
“I made a personal face-to-face pledge of support to Theresa on Tuesday evening at about 9pm when we met for a chat at her office,” Philp told Inside Croydon.
“I think there’s chaos within the country and the party needs a grown-up like Theresa May.”
And setting an example which another Croydon MP, Progress’s Steve Reed OBE, might do well to remember, Philp said, “A clear majority of my local party members in Croydon South are in favour of Theresa May, which obviously is a consideration.”
Asked about today’s developments between the Tory Party’s petulant duo of Gove and Johnson, Philp said, “It simply confirms my view that Theresa May is the right candidate – she is calm, experienced and authoritative. She will be able to unite the party and the country as we face the very turbulent times ahead.”
The Conservative Party’s leadership contest is run in two stages: first, the party’s MPs whittle down the candidates to a short-list of two, and then the party’s membership is given a like-it or lump-it choice.
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