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Westlake Legal Group > Brandon Lewis MP

Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Sep-19-1024x956 Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

Another month in and once again the Johnson Ministry appears to be holding fairly steady in the affections of grassroots activists.

There has been a slight downward drift, illustrated by the top scores no longer breaking the plus-80 barrier, but there are no ministers with negative scores and compared to the tail end of Theresa May’s time in office these are healthy scores.

Yet is it the calm before the storm? We are now only a month away from the October 31 Brexit deadline, which the Prime Minister insists he’s going to meet but nobody can really see how he can. Our next survey will be conducted as he runs into that tempest – it will be interesting to see what affect it has.

A few details:

  • Javid gold again… The Chancellor has seen his score slip a little but, as that is in line with the overall trend, he remains the most popular member of the Government amongst party members for the third month in a row.
  • …as Johnson slips… Last month the Prime Minister was ranked second by our panellists and just a couple of points shy of Javid. This month he slips to sixth after losing more than 12 points. Is this simply a response to various stories this month, or a foretaste of a backlash next month?
  • …and Rees-Mogg stumbles. It’s been an even worse month for the Leader of the House, who has fallen from a bronze-medal position last month to 11th place now after a fall of almost 15 points.
  • …but Brexiteers benefit. The beneficiaries of the above moves are principally Michael Gove, Geoffrey Cox, Dominic Raab, and Stephen Barclay. It is not until Liz Truss, in tenth position, that we find a Remainer.
  • Two departures. It’s goodbye to Amber Rudd and Jo Johnson, who both resigned from the Cabinet this month, and hello to Thérèse Coffey, who takes over from Rudd at Work & Pensions. Johnson’s successor, Chris Skidmore, is not attending Cabinet.
  • Wallace rebounds. Last month we asked what might have caused the Defence Secretary to suddenly slump to near the bottom of the table. Whatever it was, it’s passed – he’s now just below Rees-Mogg after gaining 20 points.

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Javid, Johnson, and Rees-Mogg hold their podium slots in our Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Aug-19-1024x954 Javid, Johnson, and Rees-Mogg hold their podium slots in our Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP Jo Johnson MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP   Last month we published our first Cabinet League Table of the Johnson Ministry. It offered a sea-change from Theresa May’s embattled government, both in terms of composition and the estimation in which party members held it.

One month on and the general picture hasn’t really changed. If anything, over August there was a general upward drift in the scores, reflecting what many commentators – including our own Mark Wallace – thought was a very strong start in the role.

It goes without saying that the data for this was collected prior to the return of the Commons and the Government’s miserable week therein. We might therefore anticipate a quite different set of results in October.

Here are a few of the details:

  • Post-Ruth politics. Our survey was front-page news in Scotland last month when it showed the Scottish Conservative leader, so often one of the most highly-rated individuals, down to a positive score of just +14. Perhaps it was an omen of things to come, because Ruth Davidson has since stepped aside, triggering a battle for the future of the Party in Scotland.
  • Javid tops the poll again. The Chancellor puts on four points to take his score into the mid-Eighties. This suggests that activists are either untroubled by the Government’s decision to move away from spending restraint, which Sajid Javid is by necessity spearheading, or are at least not holding it against him.
  • Johnson and Rees-Mogg fill out the podium. No change in the ordering of any of the top three, and both the Prime Minister and Leader of the House have put on about five points to their score.
  • Gove climbs… The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is climbing the ranks. But will his ongoing defence of May’s deal, and reports that he is leading the charge against Johnson’s disciplining of anti-No Deal rebels, put a dent in his score next month?
  • …as does Cleverly. Of course small changes in position may not be terribly significant, but the Party Chairman is nonetheless one of the most popular politicians in the survey. If this continues it can’t hurt his chances of being offered a Cabinet brief in a future reshuffle.
  • What happened to Wallace? In a survey which generally saw very little movement – save for two outright departures – there are a couple of obvious exceptions. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has seen his score drop by over ten points and now languishes near the bottom of the table.
  • Williamson wins members over. The other is the Education Secretary, who has seen his stock rise from +27 to +45 and gone from being close to the bottom of the table to comfortably in the middle.

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Iain Dale: Don’t mention the war, please. Why Johnson was wrong to suggest Hammond and company are collaborators.

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio, and is the author of the forthcoming book ‘Why can’t we all just get along’.

Last week at the Edinburgh Festival, John McDonnell told me that Labour would insist on Jeremy Corbyn leading any interim government of national unity, following any successful vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s administration.

I told him that this idea was delusional, since the Labour leader wouldn’t be able to command a majority in Parliament in such circumstance.  Yesterday, Corbyn confirmed that this is exactly his intention.  But since there are plenty even of his own MPs who don’t have confidence in him, one wonders how he thinks he could persuade those of other parties to row in behind him.

Jo Swinson has made it clear she wouldn’t. Anna Soubry is p**sed off that she wasn’t even cc’d on his letter. I have never thought a national unity government is a runner, and I think it’s even less likely now. Jeremy Corbyn really believes that defeating No Deal is the be all and end all, he wouldn’t be taking such an uncompromising stance. I wonder if his public aversion to it is as deep as he is making out.

– – – – – – – – – –

Corbyn says that he will call a Vote of Confidence when he thinks he can win it. Well, obviously.  But his rhetoric at the moment leads me to believe that he’s in danger of boxing himself in. The more he talks about it, the more pressure there will be on him to deliver it. And if he doesn’t, he’ll be painted as ‘frit’.

– – – – – – – – – –

The defection of Sarah Wollaston to the Liberal Democrats was among the least surprising news of the week. She will surely not be the last of the original Independent Group of MPs to travel that particular journey. I’d have thought there will be at least a couple more before their conference takes place.

And then, of course, there could well be one or two defections directly from the Conservative benches. Guto Bebb and Phillip Lee are the candidates most often mentioned. Both seem to be going through a bit of public agonising. I suspect if either of them, or indeed anyone else does the dirty deed, it will be at a moment of maximum impact. August is probably not that time.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Prime Minister was unwise to use the word ‘collaboration’ on his Facebook Live session earlier this week. He was rightly complaining that the actions and words of some Conservative MPs – and he clearly had Philip Hammond in mind – were persuading the EU to stick by its guns while they wait and see what havoc Parliament can wreak when it returns in early September.

His sentiment was right – but you can’t go throwing around words which have World War Two connotations and effectively accuse some of your Parliamentary colleagues of being quislings (another word with the same suggestion).

To so so debases the debate. I don’t know if it was a deliberate use of the word, or whether it just slipped out. If the latter, fine; but if it was a deliberate attempt to feed into the ‘People v Parliament’ narrative, well, there are better ways of doing it.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Monday, I returned from my two weeks appearing on the Edinburgh Fringe. In 24 shows, I interviewed Sir Nicholas Soames, Brandon Lewis and Eric Pickles (together), and Johnny Mercer, among many others. We’re releasing all the interviews on a new podcast, Iain Dale All Talk, which you can now subscribe to on whichever platform you get your podcasts from.

– – – – – – – – – –

Today is the first day of my first and only holiday of the year. It will last ten days and I intend to spend it in Norfolk doing precisely nothing. Apart from play golf. And binge-watch box sets. And write next week’s ConHome Diary, of course.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jul-19-1024x955 Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government ToryDiary Theresa Villiers MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP Jo Johnson MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

When Mark predicted last month that it would be the last Cabinet League Table with that line-up, he was more right than he might have expected. Boris Johnson ushered in the new era with one of the more brutal reshuffles in modern political history.

A glance at last month’s table illustrates how the clean break has certainly restored the Cabinet’s standing in the eyes of the grassroots: every single member has a positive rating, nearly all of which would have put them comfortably in the top ten during the ancien régime.

But how much of that is due to unfamiliarity? This isn’t usually something we scrutinise, but no fewer than 16 of the politicians above-listed had ‘Don’t Know’ as their highest single response, with a couple more avoiding that fate by a bare handful of votes. A blow to the egos of a few, perhaps, but it does also mean that those ministers still have plenty of scope to make a positive impression.

Here are a few of the other takeaways:

  • Javid leads the pack. The Chancellor holds onto the position he took last month, and continues to enjoy the dividends of a good leadership election. Remarkable to think that two months ago this spot was held by Penny Mordaunt, now on the backbenches.
  • Johnson in his prime. Theresa May departed our table with a score of -61.2 (that’s lower than Chris Grayling), so Boris Johnson’s +77.2 is a happy contrast. However, he ought to recall that at one point his predecessor recorded record-breaking positive scores too. Fail to deliver and his standing will fall, fast.
  • Rees-Mogg makes the podium. Perhaps unsurprising, but the titular star of our Moggcast is a hit with the membership. Leader of the House is a good position for retaining their favour too, as Andrea Leadsom discovered, as it offers numerous opportunities for scoring points off John Bercow.
  • Brexiteers on top. Also unsurprisingly, Leave-backing MPs dominate the top of the table – it isn’t until Liz Truss, in seventh place, that we find a minister who backed Remain in 2016. Amber Rudd, one of the surprise survivals of the reshuffle, is at the bottom of the table. Except…
  • Davidson in the doldrums. The Scottish Conservative leader has previously been relatively shielded from the ups and downs of the Cabinet, often chalking up podium positions as she focused her fire on the SNP. She is currently the lowest-ranked politician in the entire table, most likely fallout from her highly-publicised split with the Prime Minister and hostility to No Deal.
  • Survivor spread. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a particular position pattern for those ministers who did appear in our previous table (apart from the generally improved scores). Truss, Michael Gove, and Steve Barclay are at the upper end of the table, Rudd and Brandon Lewis near the bottom.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Jul-19-1024x955 Javid pips Johnson and Rees-Mogg to the top of the podium in our first Cabinet League Table of the new Government ToryDiary Theresa Villiers MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP Jo Johnson MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Highlights Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

When Mark predicted last month that it would be the last Cabinet League Table with that line-up, he was more right than he might have expected. Boris Johnson ushered in the new era with one of the more brutal reshuffles in modern political history.

A glance at last month’s table illustrates how the clean break has certainly restored the Cabinet’s standing in the eyes of the grassroots: every single member has a positive rating, nearly all of which would have put them comfortably in the top ten during the ancien régime.

But how much of that is due to unfamiliarity? This isn’t usually something we scrutinise, but no fewer than 16 of the politicians above-listed had ‘Don’t Know’ as their highest single response, with a couple more avoiding that fate by a bare handful of votes. A blow to the egos of a few, perhaps, but it does also mean that those ministers still have plenty of scope to make a positive impression.

Here are a few of the other takeaways:

  • Javid leads the pack. The Chancellor holds onto the position he took last month, and continues to enjoy the dividends of a good leadership election. Remarkable to think that two months ago this spot was held by Penny Mordaunt, now on the backbenches.
  • Johnson in his prime. Theresa May departed our table with a score of -61.2 (that’s lower than Chris Grayling), so Boris Johnson’s +77.2 is a happy contrast. However, he ought to recall that at one point his predecessor recorded record-breaking positive scores too. Fail to deliver and his standing will fall, fast.
  • Rees-Mogg makes the podium. Perhaps unsurprising, but the titular star of our Moggcast is a hit with the membership. Leader of the House is a good position for retaining their favour too, as Andrea Leadsom discovered, as it offers numerous opportunities for scoring points off John Bercow.
  • Brexiteers on top. Also unsurprisingly, Leave-backing MPs dominate the top of the table – it isn’t until Liz Truss, in seventh place, that we find a minister who backed Remain in 2016. Amber Rudd, one of the surprise survivals of the reshuffle, is at the bottom of the table. Except…
  • Davidson in the doldrums. The Scottish Conservative leader has previously been relatively shielded from the ups and downs of the Cabinet, often chalking up podium positions as she focused her fire on the SNP. She is currently the lowest-ranked politician in the entire table, most likely fallout from her highly-publicised split with the Prime Minister and hostility to No Deal.
  • Survivor spread. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a particular position pattern for those ministers who did appear in our previous table (apart from the generally improved scores). Truss, Michael Gove, and Steve Barclay are at the upper end of the table, Rudd and Brandon Lewis near the bottom.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mark Wallace’s leadership sketch: Johnson keeps it brief, and leaves his fans wanting more

I’ve always enjoyed the way an expectant crowd develops its own hive-personality, with the hubbub ebbing and flowing spontaneously based on a group guesstimate of whether proceedings are about to start. The assembled Conservative MPs and activists in a (mercifully air-conditioned) hall at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre were so looking forward to today’s result being announced that they had a few false starts. Every so often, the room would suddenly hush from tones of excited gossip to pin-drop silence, only to resume once it became clear that actually it was just a backbencher sneaking in later, not the main event kicking off.

Eventually, the lights dimmed – a quiet fireworks-night “ooh” emanated from the crowd, as inevitably as the person who always shouts “wahey!” when an unfortunate drops their pint in a pub. A touch of decorum was restored by a rather slick video intro, parading audio clips of past Conservative Prime Ministers.

Churchill – “I was brought up in my father’s house to believe in democracy. ‘Trust the people’…”.

Macmillan – “Britain has been great, is great, and will stay great, provided we…get on with the job”.

(Are you getting the message yet?)

Ted Heath – no, there was no Heath, presumably because the risk of booing would be too great.

Thatcher made the cut, of course – “I have only one thing to say: you turn if you want to…”

John Major was perhaps a little chancey, given his recent interventions, but he got through safe and sound with “These years changed the face of our nation, and they changed the fate of our nation.”

Cameron was there, too – “We campaigned for hope, not fear; we campaigned for change, not more of the same…” My, didn’t he get it.

Finally, CCHQ’s video editors did Theresa May the courtesy of inclusion: “Together, let’s build a better Britain.” But perhaps that was more a caution to the next leader – look upon their works, ye mighty, et cetera.

Then it was over to Brandon Lewis, who was surely aware that his somewhat harsh reward for overseeing a pretty successful leadership contest will probably be to lose the role of Party Chairman. He had evidently decided to stay positive, and hailed “a contest that has shown the very best of our Party” – perhaps a slightly over-optimistic summary, but nobody was churlish enough to say so.

If Lewis was the hype-man, it fell to Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker to perform the main announcement, and to attempt the impossible task of making it seem like nobody could guess what was about to happen. Given that everybody knew the result already, it was a little like watching the announcement of who had won the Brit Award for Best British Male Brit from a shortlist of Stormzy and Norman Baker. It was never going to be the most tense moment of 2019.

Nonetheless, they made a good go of it. We got some preamble on being nicer to the new Prime Minister than to the old one, some barbs about the newfound gender equality at the top of the ’22 (there’s a 1922 Committee election coming up, and most MPs were in the audience, which I’m sure wasn’t on anybody’s mind), and a bit of Gillan banter, with Walker hailed as “my beautiful assistant”. She would do a better job of delivering an actual Brit Award than Gemma Collins, if anyone’s reading who has responsibility for booking that event.

But then there it was, slipped out of Walker’s inside pocket: the envelope, containing the big news that everybody knew but which everybody had nonetheless come along to hear the confirmation that they did indeed know it. And indeed the result was exactly as expected – a known-known, as Rumsfeld might put it.

From there, the process felt inevitable. A standing ovation greeted Boris Johnson, who allowed himself only a short turn about his DUDE (Deliver, Unite, Defeat, Energise) strategy.

Along the way, he somehow managed to mash together Geoffrey Cox’s favourite Milton quote (“Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant Nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep…”) with Gulliver waking up in Lilliput: “Like some slumbering giant, we are going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt and negativity…” But even that was only a short meander into anything as risky as imagery.

The speech was brief, it featured a line or two for the bulletins and the headlines, but overall it was spare and tight – certainly compared to his capacity for more free-style, off-script performances.

A short speech is not a bad thing, particularly when “the campaign is over, and the work begins”, but it might have surprised his audience somewhat. If they expected their eager anticipation to be sated with lengthy and elaborate oratory, they were mistaken.

That confounding of expectations is a theme Johnson has riffed on profitably in the past. In this case, the absence of much of a show might be the first outing of Johnson’s early message: that while his critics hope to paint him as a mere performer, he intends to focus on getting the job done. And if he left his fans wanting more, well, that’s unlikely to seem like a bad thing when the main event is just about to start.

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Brandon Lewis: I’m proud of the Conservative Party I have seen at our hustings

Brandon Lewis is Chairman of the Conservative Party, and is MP for Great Yarmouth.

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From Reggie to Rory Sahib: Greetings on your Grand Tour. Here, Boris and J.Hunt esquire are showering punters with taxpayers’ cash

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2017-09-09-at-11.14.55 From Reggie to Rory Sahib: Greetings on your Grand Tour. Here, Boris and J.Hunt esquire are showering punters with taxpayers’ cash Sir Nicholas Soames MP Rory Stewart MP Priti Patel MP Penny Mordaunt MP Mark Francois MP Light relief Jeremy Hunt MP Jeremy Corbyn MP Iain Duncan Smith MP Highlights David Lidington MP Conservatives Conservative leadership election 2019 Columnists Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Amber Rudd MP From: Reggie@toptory.lidl.com

To: Rory.Stewart@Maiwand.com

Subject: Brexit Bidding Competition

Rory Sahib!

I have enjoyed reading your Twitter account and the photos taken on your Grand Tour of the Gulf States. I hope you are trying to hose down our American cousins who want to biff the Ayatollah and his Imans.

How time flies when we are enjoying the Brexit train crash. You laid down a good marker for the next leadership contest – could be before the festive season.

All is quiet on my home front as Lady Mary has been in France as the Patroness of the Lionesses football team. You probably saw her in twinset and pearls standing behind assorted muscular ladies. Can’t say I approve as women are far more lethal on the pitch than men. I still have a cracked shin bone from playing against Cheltenham Gals College in the 1950s.

Last week, Soames and I attended the Armed Forces Day Parade in Winchester in blistering heat. “Bubbles” Smythe gave us a lift in his roller, and parked outside the Cathedral in a spot reserved for the Dean. Then a liquid lunch at one of the better hotels. We raised our goblets to you in an alcohol-free zone.

Now what’s been happening here in the leadership contest? As far as I can tell Boris and J Hunt Esquire are trying to outbid each other in the Brexit war, and showering taxpayers’ money on every interest group. There are all these ghastly photos of them hugging passers by and avoiding difficult questions.

Boris seems to lurch from one disaster to the next. To divert the attention of reptiles he says he relaxes by painting wine boxes to look like buses! Sounds a bit like Comrade Corbyn photographing drainage covers. You wouldn’t have had all this rollicking nonsense from Harold M or Mrs T.

To steady the nerves of his supporters, he has appointed IDS as his campaign manager. As Soames opined, based on his sterling successes as our leader 20 years ago and reforming the welfare morass. I put it about that Rees-Mogg and S Baker were drawing up lists of potential ministers – Francois to defence and Patel to the FCO. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the weaker brethren.

Then we have had that hoary old suggestion to cut the Cabinet by half – international development to the FCO and Welfare, for God’s sake, to the Treasury. Another of the Trussette’s brilliant schemes, but unfolding fast, as the colleagues have worked out there will be fewer ministers.

Over a convivial lunch at “The Prisoner’s Friend” pub off Whitehall, Brandon Lewis, Party Chairman and Keeper of the Files, told Soames and Yours Truly that CCHQ had emails prepared to mobilise for an autumn election. Reminded me of those warning orders prepared by the British Army of the Rhine for a Bolshevik attack. Sad to say a similar end game!

Then we hear that Boris, as part of this Churchill nostalgia, wants to create a War Cabinet for Brexit. Jolly old D Lidington tells me they propose to meet in the Old Cabinet War Rooms to soak up the atmosphere and fag ash. The Imperial War Museum is promised £20 million to cover the lost tourist fees.

Meanwhile, there has been consternation here in the Palace of Varieties at proposals to put panic buttons and CCTV cameras in MPs and Peers Offices. Some blather about preventing inappropriate behaviour. As Soames pointed out, more likely catching him and me watching Wimbledon and sinking a glass of bubbly after lunch.

Well, old lad, only three more weeks of these awful hustings I am spending this weekend in Northumberland with my grandchildren and the Jacks. Sort of loco parentis although apart from using me as a human version of a cash register in the wall, I see very little of the offspring. Plenty of cricket and Wimbledon to see on the telly.

Thank you for your invitation, Soames and I would be delighted to sup with you at the Silk Road Club next week – why not invite those jolly ladies Amber R and Penny M?

Yours at the going down of the sun,

Reggie

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Brandon Lewis: Ten years ago, there were 17 women on the Conservative benches – today there are four times that number.

Brandon Lewis is Chairman of the Conservative Party, and is MP for Great Yarmouth.

I started my political journey in 1998 in leafy Brentwood, the heart of Essex. There, I was an activist and then a councillor, long before I had considered becoming MP. I grew up in the party, seeing first-hand how many remarkable  women contribute to our party at every level.

Yet time and again these outstanding female activists, committed to their community and to public service, did not put themselves forward for local council or parliament. It is the same today, and that needs to change.

While as Conservatives we have led the way in terms of gender equality: from the first woman to take her seat in Parliament, to the first, and second, female Prime Ministers, there is still a long way to go to ensure more women stand for office at every level of Government.

Last summer, I set an ambition to see women make up half of our party’s parliamentary candidates list. And in the year we mark the centenary of the first woman taking her seat in Parliament, the Conservative MP Nancy Astor, we are committed to having more women follow in her footsteps.

That is why this weekend we are hosting our first Conservative Women’s Conference in a generation. It is part of a programme of events we are holding across the country, encouraging women of all backgrounds to stand. The conference will be held with the Conservative Women’s Organisation, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. It is the oldest women’s political organisation in the world and works tirelessly to provide support and focus for women in the Conservative Party as well  as encouraging more women to be politically active and to get elected at all levels.

As a Party, we want to make sure that we have the very best candidates representing their communities, competing in a level playing field. So we have reviewed and updated our parliamentary assessment criteria and we are about to start some comprehensive research into what barriers people face when seeking public office, so we can make the process fairer, and better, for everyone.

My ambition for women to make up half of our parliamentary candidates list is not a quota or a shortlist, as neither would solve the underlying problem. Instead, achieving this ambition will mean local associations have the ability to choose from a wider pool of the best possible candidates. I am determined to create an environment where more first-rate Conservative women from all backgrounds want to enter politics because they believe it is a rewarding and fulfilling vocation.

We, of course, have fantastic female MPs, councillors and activists who contribute so much to public life. Many of them have benefitted from the incredible work of Women2Win and the Conservative Women’s organisation, both groups having transformed our politics by supporting women through every step of the candidate process. And with their help, we have made progress. Ten years ago, there were 17 women on the Conservative benches – today there are four times that number.

Yet, our research has shown us that on average, it takes women six to 12 months longer than their male counterparts to apply to be a candidate.

So, my focus over the past year, led by the work of my deputy Helen Whately, has been to change the political landscape by encouraging women to take the plunge and put themselves forward to represent the Conservative party.

Our plans to break down barriers for women are not a short-term project, focussed solely on outcomes. I want this vision to serve as a catalyst for change, encouraging all our Conservative Party activists, members and supporters  to join me in asking women to get more involved in politics at every level. If all of us, men and women, take up this task, we can drive long-term change, and create a political culture where women are encouraged to take on bigger and better roles in public life.

If you know a woman who would make a phenomenal Conservative representative, why not ask her to stand?

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Mordaunt leads the pack in our latest Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-May-19-1024x965 Mordaunt leads the pack in our latest Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Theresa May MP The Cabinet Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Ruth Davidson MSP Rory Stewart MP Philip Hammond MP Penny Mordaunt MP Paul Davies AM Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Mel Stride MP Matthew Hancock MP Liz Truss MP Liam Fox MP Karen Bradley MP Julian Smith MP Jeremy Wright MP Jeremy Hunt MP James Brokenshire MP Highlights Greg Clark MP Geoffrey Cox MP David Mundell MP David Lidington MP David Gauke MP Damian Hinds MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Chris Skidmore MP Chris Grayling MP Caroline Nokes MP Brandon Lewis MP Amber Rudd MP Alun Cairns MP

*Note: Theresa May scored -68.7, and Chris Grayling -72.4.

This month’s Cabinet League Table is very much a snapshot of the end of a regime. With the race to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party about to begin, there is very likely to be a substantial reshuffle in the near future.

A glance at the above chart suggests why one is needed: only eleven Cabinet ministers record positive scores from our panel, and even the top-rated minister has barely hit +50. Here are some takeaways:

  • Mordaunt tops the poll. Our last two surveys both had her in fourth, so the Defence Secretary’s leap to the top of the podium will do nothing, so soon after she wrote for us about the leadership, to cool speculation that she might be about to enter the competition herself.
  • Truss holds on to second place. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has endorsed Boris Johnson, so no leadership speculation here, but her energetic championing of small-state, pro-freedom Conservatism is clearly striking a chord with the grassroots.
  • Davidson is back. Ruth Davidson’s return to the front has been noted, and rewarded with a 16-point increase in her positive rating. Were she in the Cabinet, she would have taken the silver medal position from Truss.
  • In fact, all three podium slots are held by women. Mordaunt, Truss, and Davidson are the three most popular Conservative politicians with our panellists. At present not one is running for the leadership, but it nonetheless challenges lazy stereotypes about the Tory grassroots and should give those MPs in the leadership race food for thought.
  • Although May’s score remains Stygian. Although she is at least scoring better than Chris Grayling this month, this score is a sour note on which to depart Downing Street and will cast a shadow over those candidates trying to carry forward aspects of her legacy.
  • Gove, Hunt, and Javid have respectable scores… Of the leadership candidates running from the Cabinet, these three are clustered together near the top of the table. Ratings in the low-to-mid 20s would not ordinarily look like endorsements, but alas these are not ordinary times.
  • …whilst Hancock and Stewart struggle. The Health Secretary is at least in the black, with a score of 5.6. The International Development Secretary however is on -18, scarcely an auspicious jumping-off point for any leadership bid.

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