By Simon Basketter
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Tory thieves fall out in chaotic leadership campaign

This article is over 5 years, 10 months old
Issue 2511
Theresa May looks set to capitalise on divisions on the right of the Tory party
Theresa May looks set to capitalise on divisions on the right of the Tory party (Pic: wikicommons)

Leading Brexit Tory Johnson awoke last Thursday looking forward to becoming Britain’s next prime minister. He went to bed with his career in smouldering ruins.

Exactly how depends on who you believe. But it seems that Johnson was characteristically too smug by half. The deal for justice secretary Michael Gove’s support involved him becoming chancellor.

But Johnson also needed energy and climate change secretary Andrea Leadsom on board if he was to get a clear run at home secretary Theresa May.

She fancied the chancellor job as well. So Johnson promised her the job on condition she wouldn’t contest the leadership. But apparently she never got the memo and stood.


Gove was appointed Johnson’s campaign manager. But Gove was furious that the Treasury job he thought he had was being taken away.

So he “spontaneously” announced he was running for prime minister. And he happened to have a 5,000-word manifesto to hand.

Johnson’s support crumbled and so did he. Boris could still have made it to the final race with Theresa May. But one insider said, “Boris felt he could become another Corbyn.

“He might win with the membership but not have enough support in parliament.”

Wherever he went last week he was booed by one side or another. Then London mayor Sadiq Khan sold off his unused and unloved police water cannon.

Gove pronounced, “I know my limitations. Whatever charisma is, I don’t have it.

“Whatever glamour may be, I don’t think anyone could ever associate me with it.”

Conservative grandee Ken Clarke called on him to “do us all a favour” and “stand down now”.

He said, “This kind of public performance is more suitable for election to a student union.”

On Monday Gove was third favourite in the race behind May and Leadsom. Fittingly for a Tory, May campaigned at the posh Henley regatta last weekend.

Two other candidates put their names forward but looked unlikely to get very far. Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb makes much of his humble origins, less of his homophobia.

Former defence secretary Liam Fox resigned in disgrace after one too many meetings with lobbyists and arms dealers.

Meet the shady bunch—the top three candidates


Previous job—banker

Once wrongly claimed people couldn’t be deported if they had a cat.

In the 1990s as party chair May said the Tories needed to lose their image as the “nasty party”.

She has helped strengthen the nasty reality ever since.

As home secretary she has launched a series of assaults on migrants and refugees saying they make a “cohesive society” impossible.


Previous job—journalist

Gove’s neoconservative polemic Celsius 7/7 argued “fundamentalist terror” had been facilitated by the “sapping of confidence in Western values encouraged by the radical left since 1968.”

Hated as education secretary, his demotion in 2014 led to celebrations in classrooms across Britain.


Previous job— banker and financier

this Former climate change minister wasn’t sure climate change was real until she got the job.

Repeatedly abstained on the same sex marriage vote because it would mean “a measure that risks centuries of faith-based belief in marriage”.

Leadsom’s lolly is stashed offshore

Andrea Leadsom, a banker and former City minister, used scams that could reduce the tax on her family assets and has accepted donations from businesses with roots in tax havens.

She created with her fellow investment banker and husband Ben a buy-to-let company Bandal.

In 2005, 24 percent of its ownership was transferred to entities described as “children’s settlement”.

This had the potential of reducing the inheritance tax burden on her assets.


A charge from the offshore bank Kleinwort Benson in Jersey was placed over some of the company’s properties.

After Leadsom became an MP, Bandal’s charges were made onshore and offshore loans were cleared.

Her brother-in-law, Peter de Putron, based in the tax haven of Guernsey, is reported to have donated £816,000 to the Conservative Party.

Part of his largesse comes from a British company called Gloucester Research, which has given Leadsom and the Tories £281,000 since 2007.

Its parent company was in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.

De Putron also gave £300,000 to the “no to voting reform” campaign and another £680,000 to a Tory think tank with which Leadsom is personally associated.


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