WALTER CRONXITE, Political Editor, on the Conservative peer’s criticism of the Truss government’s reckless ‘Mini-Budget’
Baron Barwell of Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon has had enough of the Conservative government.
The patience of the man who was Tory MP for Croydon Central for seven years finally cracked on Friday afternoon, as he pronounced himself politically homeless.
“I haven’t left the Conservative Party,” he tweeted. “It has left me.”
After months of grumblings from the sidelines about his old mate, the philanderer law-breaker and serial liar Boris Johnson, over the way that his government was “getting Brexit done” and causing lasting damage to the nation, Friday’s Mini-Budget saw “Lord” Barwell finally lose it.
And the former senior official at Conservative Central Office and sometime chief of staff at No10 Downing Street reckons that he is far from alone among his erstwhile Tory mates, too.
Doing the rounds of the news and politics shows, as broadcasters sought reactions to Kamikaze Kwasi Kwarteng’s statement in the House of Commons earlier in the day, Barwell claimed that his apparent dismay – if not disgust – at the financial measures announced was shared by sitting Tory MPs.
Interviewed by Andrew Marr on LBC, Barwell said, “Since I tweeted… Conservative MPs have contacted me and expressed sympathy with that view.
“There are definitely people in the party who are deeply uncomfortable about some of the things the Chancellor had to say today.”
Barwell had got the ball rolling with his own critique of the measures announced in the ill-fated dash for growth and tax cuts aimed at those earning over £155,000 a year.
“This wasn’t a Mini-Budget,” he wrote. “Taxes were too high, but cutting my taxes while doing nothing for those on Universal Credit is wrong.
“Funding this by borrowing more when debt interest is already at record levels is reckless. Looser fiscal policy is going to mean higher interest rates.”
More than once, Barwell described his erstwhile colleagues’ financial announcements as “reckless”
Indeed, Barwell saw the measures as being politically disastrous. Responding to a tweet from Paul Johnson, the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who laid out the stark detail of the winners and losers from Kwarteng’s tax cuts, Barwell wrote, “Indefensible. And also terrible politics.
“Conservative MPs may want to do the math on how many of the people who are eligible to vote in their constituencies win and how many lose…”.
Labour MP Karl Turner responded to Barwell’s public wailings by suggesting that he should cross the floor in the House of Lords to join the Labour benches.
“A kind offer, but my politics are of the liberal centre right,” Barwell replied.
“I haven’t left the Conservative Party – it has left me. As a result I find myself increasingly homeless, and from the messages I get and conversations I have I think I am far from alone.”
Stephen Mann, until May a Labour councillor in Croydon, highlighted that Barwell would not be the first Croydon Central Tory MP to end up joining the Labour Party. Barwell’s predecessor as MP, Andrew Pelling, joined Labour in 2011, a year after losing the seat in the Commons. To lose one big beast politician may be regarded as a misfortune for Croydon Tories. To lose two looks like carelessness…
Barwell is very busy these days. In his post-Commons, post-Downing Street career, he is a director or adviser to at least six major corporations. Little wonder, then, that he says he rarely attends the Lords, and doesn’t claim the £323 daily attendance allowance.
Barwell appears to be aspiring to a new opposition party to the Tories. Charles Tannock, a former Conservative MEP (the European Parliament… remember that?), said, “You’re not alone Lord Barwell and if Tory party ever splits to create a new moderate pro business centre/centre right internationalist pro European one upholding good governance and integrity I would hope you would take a leading role in it. I think PR might encourage such a split.”
When it comes to the economics, though, Barwell has been less lucid. Remarks like saying that the Conservative Party is so bad that interest rates are back up to levels last seen when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, after the 2008 global financial crash, ignore the impact of rates now rising across the globe.
The Tories are still borrowing at real negative rates, as inflation rises to 11per cent, so its an opportunity not to be missed. And taxes will still be at their highest since the Second World War, even after this fiscal boost to an economy facing serious international headwinds.
As a member of the “liberal centre right”, Barwell is seemingly romantically divorced from economic realities.
Much as he was divorced from the realities of delivering Brexit from No10.
Read more: A bad week for Tory MP just got very much worse for Croydon
Read more: ‘Rabbit hutch’ flats and the Chief Secretary: Philp’s conflicts
Read more: ‘The Prime Minister admits he lied’ says Tory Lord Barwell
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at email@example.com
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- By having a comment section, we provide all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content. Details of how this works can be read by clicking here
- Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as well as BBC London News and ITV London
- Inside Croydon: 3.3million page views in 2021. Seen by 1.6million unique visitors in that 12-month period