Conservative Diary

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The Tory Right in Parliament is getting its act together

Picture 6 For some years the Right-wing factions among Conservative MPs have been just that - factional and not necessarily working together.

But I can reveal that the different groupings have now opted to begin co-ordinating their activities - and the spoils of success are already being seen.

There are currently three significant Right-wing groups among Conservative MPs:

  • The 92 Group - chaired by Chris Chope
  • The No Turning Back Group - chaired by John Redwood
  • Cornerstone - chaired by Edward Leigh

Cornerstone is distinctly socially conservative in its outlook, whereas the other two would be more broadly defined in terms of their low tax, free market, economically liberal positions. Indeed, members of No Turning Back and the 92 Group to whom I have spoken (whose memberships are in any case very similar) are unable to distinguish a philosophical difference between them.

Nonetheless, the three groups have not only embarked on a co-ordinated programme of lunches and dinners, to which each other's members are invited, but their intention to work in closer co-operation is demonstrated by the fact that they are now running joint slates in internal parliamentary party elections under the nominal auspices of the "Conservative Steering Group".

In fact the three MPs elected to the Board of the Party earlier this week - Brian Binley, Priti Patel and Charles Walker - were not simply the 92 Group slate, as I reported on Wednesday, but an agreed slate on behalf of all three aforementioned groups.

That trio are, incidentally, all either officers or Executive members of the 1922 Committee to boot.

It should also be remembered that the successful week for the Tory Right also included the election - unopposed - of Bill Cash to chair the European Scrutiny Committee, despite the best efforts of the Whips' Office to persuade an alternative candidate to oppose him. 

Jonathan Isaby


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