The Plot, Nadine Dorries’s cryptic exposé about the downfall of Boris Johnson, has been variously described as “a conspiratorial mess”, “a pyramid of piffle” and “the weirdest book I’ve ever read”. Yet its central claim — that a shadowy cabal, led by a rabbit-murdering puppetmaster called Dr No, brought down Boris Johnson and has been controlling British politics for decades — hasn’t been dismissed out of hand by everybody.
The Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), a group of Johnson loyalists, said in a statement last night that there should be a government inquiry into the “pattern of undemocratic practices” inferred by Dorries. “The book’s revelations are deeply troubling,” reads the statement.
We were also deeply troubled by Dorries’s barmy book — in which sources are given James Bond-themed code names — because it was written by someone who only last year sat in Cabinet with top security clearance.
In any case the CDO, whose supporters include former ministers Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg, believe Dorries’s theories are robust enough to form the basis of an inquiry that would cost God knows how much. The group also calls for the Tories to hold a separate internal inquiry into “potential breaches of ethical standards by senior people in our party”. “Appropriate action must be taken based on the findings,” writes the CDO board, which is led by Lord Cruddas, a fierce support of former PM Johnson.
Johnson helped Dorries with the book, giving on-the-record interviews to her in which he reflected on his time in office. It is not clear what he thinks of the conspiracy theory she has drawn, but the pair remain close. Over the weekend, they enjoyed a fireside reunion (photographed by Carrie Johnson).
Tories seek a new pun peddler
Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) is looking for a new copywriter to churn out political puns in the run-up to an election.
Duties of the job, which carries a “competitive” salary, include brainstorming “ideas and funny jokes for party merch”. CCHQ’s gift shop is already brimming with merchandised zingers that will no doubt cripple Labour’s lead. Take these sold-out flip flops, pictured. “Keir Starmer has had more flip flops than Bondi beach and more launches than Nasa,” reads the devastating product description.
Yours for just £15.99 is the Tories’ 2023 Christmas card, featuring Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer as carollers belting out “All I want for Christmas is EU”. Also on offer is a notebook emblazoned with Labour’s Plan for The Country, “and the content says it all: 200 blank pages”. Applications open to anyone who can match and raise these damning one-liners.
Tory MP Alexander Stafford is on the warpath after a Labour member in his constituency posted attack ads featuring his wife and young children. The individual has been made to sign a harassment order by the police but he remains a Labour party member. The deputy speaker of the Commons, Dame Eleanor Laing, has described this as “an appalling situation”.
Yet despite writing to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and raising two points of order in the House about it, Stafford says he has had no response from Sir Keir. Party leaders are not usually involved in disciplinary processes at a local level, but Stafford would no doubt appreciate a response.
Last night in Town
Prince William and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood were spotted having a cackle at the Tusk Conservation Awards last night, before the prince made a keynote speech about the devastating impact of climate change in Africa. Sally Wood, Ronnie’s wife, also attended the awards at the Savoy with singer Katherine Jenkins and Emma, Marchioness of Bath.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, on the banks of the Thames, American actor Timothée Chalamet and Olivia Colman were out promoting their new film, Wonka. Chalamet, who plays a young Willy Wonka in the film, wore his sunglasses with steely resolve, bringing a little Hollywood glamour to rainy Tower Bridge. Down the road, actors Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie attended the screening of their new BBC drama, Vigil, which is returning for a second series, at the BFI.
Over in Mayfair, Daphne Guinness, Martha, Lady Sitwell and Jade Jagger pouted the night away at a party celebrating a new Harrods collaboration with Celia Kritharioti, held at Mark’s Club. They were joined by British Vogue head honchos Edward Enninful and Sarah Harris.