Go Nads! Barwell enters row over right-wing MP’s resignation

Absentee peer has a pop at nine-carat ex-MP Nadine Dorries in a Twitter spat likely to spark further rows as the Conservatives look to select their parliamentary candidate for new Croydon East constituency, reports our political editor WALTER CRONXITE

Not very good: Nadine Dorries has a vastly inflated view of her abilities

Gavin Barwell, the former Croydon MP and government minister, leaped into the political row over the long-delayed resignation of Nadine Dorries at the weekend, attracting a full-blooded attack on social media.

Dorries, a full-time presenter on a little-watched, far-right TV station and part-time MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, finally got around to filing her formal resignation via a Tory-supporting newspaper’s pay-walled subscription service over the weekend.

Dorries, an arch-supporter of Brexit and Boris Johnson, had been absent from her job as an MP for most of the past year, although that did not prevent her pocketing her salary and making sure a family member was also well-paid out of tax-payers’ money. Her resignation, when it finally came, followed a decision last week to double the severance payment to retiring and resigning MPs. Kerrr-ching!

Dorries had originally announced that she was to quit the Commons on June 9. Johnson and another ally, Nigel Adams, resigned at the same time, with the by-elections for their constituencies held in July. Dorries, however, did not formally resign, instigating speculation that she intended to time the subsequent by-election to cause maximum damage and embarrassment for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. That by-election is now due in late September, just before the Conservative Party Conference.

“Since you took office a year ago, the country is run by a zombie Parliament where nothing meaningful has happened,” Dorries wrote in her resignation letter to the PM.

“What exactly has been done or have you achieved? You hold the office of Prime Minister unelected, without a single vote, not even from your own MPs. You have no mandate from the people and the Government is adrift. You have squandered the goodwill of the nation, for what?”

Barwell lost his Croydon Central seat in 2017, but was soon hired as Downing Street Chief of Staff when Theresa May became Prime Minister. That appointment did not end happily, either, with May’s Premiership crushed by the demands of “delivering” Brexit and the disloyalty of her own party’s MPs, most notably Johnson.

Good lord: how Barwell chipped in his two penn’orth on the Dorries resignation, as the Tory Party tears itself apart

Baron Barwell of Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon (snappy title, eh?) has since then been grumbling away on social media, and in his book, Chief Of Staff, a somewhat self-serving account of his time in No10.

When the news of Dorries’ delayed resignation was revealed in the Sunday newspaper first editions, Lord Barwell tweeted, snarkily, “This Nadine Dorries who asks ‘Why is it that we’ve had five PMs since 2010, with not one of the previous four having left office as the result of losing a general election?’ surely couldn’t be the same one who triggered a vote of confidence in Theresa May?

“Or the one who submitted a letter calling for a vote of confidence in David Cameron?

“Someone should put Nadine 1 in touch with Nadines 2 and 3 so she can interview them for her book and unveil the ‘machinations of a small group of individuals at the centre of the party’.”

And Barwell warmed to his theme, quite astutely: “But for brass neck you really can’t beat a supporter of Boris Johnson accusing A.N. Other politician of putting personal ambition to be Prime Minister before the good of the country.”

Yesterday lunchtime Dorries, a leading twit, fired back on Twitter: “I’ve never ‘triggered’ any vote of no confidence in my life, Gavin. Do be careful with you words. Did a vote take place? Yes. Did I vote in it, yes, of course.

Chief of stuff: Barwell with Theresa May

“If anyone was responsible for what happened to [Theresa May] and the fact that she had to face a vote at all, it was you and your truly low-quality advice when you were her Chief of Staff. If you had thought more about her future and less about your own, If you had listened to the then Chief Whip, whose advice you ignored, the Brexiteer MPs you sneered at and the will of the people which you also ignored, things may have been very different.

“If you want to apportion blame for what happened to [Theresa May] it honestly seems to me as though you have got off scott-free so far. You were to blame, Gavin. You and those close to her seriously let her down by having no strategy in place.

“Me? I was just a backbencher foot soldier. Hope this has helped to promote your book which is the real reason you’ve tweeted me.

“You’re welcome.”

Barwell has not responded to Dorries’ rant. Although he has re-tweeted his original message.

‘Former political adviser to the Prime Minister’: selection favourite Jason Cummings

Barwell has cut a semi-detached figure from Conservative and Croydon politics of late, taking an indefinite leave of absence from the House of Lords (for which, unlike Dorries in the Commons, he does not get paid) and disengaging from Croydon Tory activities, too.

But Croydon Conservatives are currently engaged in the selection process for their candidate for the new parliamentary seat of Croydon East, which takes in some of Barwell’s old seat and – given the unstable nature of Croydon politics after Labour crashed the council’s finances – is regarded as “winnable” for the Tories.

Tipped for selection is Jason Cummings, the Shirley councillor and council cabinet member for finance, who went from a job managing the pick-and-mix at Woolies to running Barwell’s parliamentary office and later being a loyal staffer during his spell at No10. Or, as Cummings describes it on his social media profile, “Former political adviser to the Prime Minister”.

As the Tory Party, in Westminster and across the country, continues to turn in on itself in the final months of nearly 14 years of dreadful, hugely damaging government, Lord Barwell might be expected to pledge his support to his old chum Cummings over Croydon East.

But given the increasingly far-right inclination of the Croydon Tories’ membership, many of whom regard Mayor Jason Perry as some kind of roaring success, any intervention by the 2023 version of Barwell might not be regarded as entirely helpful…

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12 Responses to Go Nads! Barwell enters row over right-wing MP’s resignation

  1. Adrian Cowie says:

    Nadine, is completely on the ball. The Conservatives are out of touch wit the voters. The keep coming up with statements about what they’re going to do, but there’s no effective action. They’ve become like a Socialist Party, imposing high taxes and low growth. I was a lifelong Tory voter but I’ll never vote for them again! I’ll not vote Labour, Lib Dem, Green either. Seems like Richard Tice’s Reform party is the only party with any decent values,

    • The Reform Party support fracking and want to bung £30 billion of our taxes to help the private health industry at the expense of the NHS. It is thanks to them and the Tory party they abandoned that we have the disaster known as Brexit. The only good thing about Richard Tice’s party is that it splits the far-right vote to the detriment of the Conservatives

  2. Paul H says:

    MPs only get these “severence” monies if they get voted out at an election. Dorries will not benefit…….

    • Anthony Miller says:

      I imagine it’s to mollify some of those who are going to lose in the game of musical chairs created by the recent boundary review. What they call these days “an enhanced redundancy package” ….designed to get some of the dead wood to self immolate before it’s incinerated on the pyre of electoral disaster.

  3. derek thrower says:

    Perhaps old Twinky Barwell makes Mad Nads furious by having established a life time sinecure in the House of Lords for such an inept political career, which she is now unlikely to receive.

    This spat could be taken more seriously if we remember Dorries’s previous risible acts of contempt for parliamentary democracy and Barwell acting with principle in response.

    Someone who disappeared for a month to take part in a celebrity televisions programme rather than represent her constituents should have been long booted out long ago, but during the era of Barwell’s influence on British Politics this was not even contemplated by his Tory Party beyond a token suspension and the only punishment faced was for failing to declare the appearance fee and just having to apologise for it.

    Barwell deserves all the contempt he gets.

  4. Andrew Pelling says:

    Electoral Calculus has Croydon East, mainly the old Croydon Central, as being just a 1 % chance of being a Conservative win. It would be a stretch for voters to think that their seat sees a realistic chance of a serious Tory challenge to Labour with the government being so deeply unpopular.

    Local Conservative Federation members will think carefully before selecting a candidate, whatever Jason’s merits, who, as the Council’s finance Cabinet member, put forward the 15% increase in council tax.

  5. Andrew Pelling says:

    Just to give the Conservatives a bit of encouragement; back in May 2022 when the Conservatives were 19 % closer to Labour in the national opinion polls these were the first preference vote shares for Mayor in Croydon East (taking account of 81.4% of Woodside ward electorate being in the new Croydon East).

    Conservatives 37.2%, Labour 31.6%, Pelling 9.2%, Liberal Democrats 8.3%, Green 5.6%, 3 other candidates 8%. The size of the vote for parties other than red or blue does add up to another interesting local Croydon factor.

  6. Stephen Collingwood says:

    Thanks Andrew! It seems that being in Park Hill, we are now part of Croydon South constituency. What’s the chances of Labour there, or do we vote tactically for the Lib-Dems?!

  7. Ann says:

    None of the Above.

  8. Andrew Pelling says:

    Thank you Stephen. I think that Park Hill looks rather odd being in Croydon South as residents tend to look towards the town centre and East Croydon station as regards their shopping and rail transport respectively.

    The Liberal Democrats have a strong Parliamentary Croydon South candidate in the form of Major Rick Howard who was the Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate last year. In that election the share of the first preference vote for Mayor in the newly configured Croydon South was as follows:

    Conservative 52.5%, Labour 17.5%, Liberal Democrat 13.4% Pelling 7.9%, Green 5.6%, other 3 candidates 3% so close between Labour and Lib-Dems.

    Labour has a candidate who has seen peculiarly poor results in local Croydon council elections. Electoral Calculus gives Labour a 68% chance of gaining the seat.

  9. Dave Russell says:

    She threw a strop, threatening to resign, back in June because she didn’t get the peerage she was so sure she deserved. Resigning is just another show of peevishness. I guess we’ll just have to somehow manage without her services, whatever they might be.

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