Amber Rudd allies detect Number 10 fingerprints on toxic Tory briefings
Tory sources seen to enjoy briefing against one of their most able performers.
Back in the distant days of 2016, word in Westminster was that Tory moderates were busy preparing the ground for Amber Rudd to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader. A year later, the home secretary was still in the frame after a strong performance in the run-up to the Brexit vote.
“Do not discount Amber Rudd. In fact, give the home secretary the serious consideration she deserves,” wrote the moderate Tory commentator Matthew d’Ancona in 2017. “In the seven-way shouting match of the BBC leaders’ debate on 31 May, she stood in for the prime minister, though her elderly father had died only days before, and did so with poise, dignity and emotional intelligence as six other politicians berated her. She looked like a leader in waiting.”
But nearly two years later, as far as Tory members are concerned, the latest leadership league table sees the work and pensions secretary behind the likes of Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Jacob Rees Mogg. None of whom have ever been described as displaying poise, dignity and emotional intelligence.
So why are Tory members so hostile to one of their most able performers who looks best-equipped to win the next election for them?
Of course, Rudd’s pro-Remain tendencies have not exactly endeared her to the increasingly right-wing Tory membership. But in The Times, Rachel Sylvester suggests that negative briefings about the top Tory moderate are also a key factor.
“Ms Rudd has become the latest target for Brexiteer fury after she led efforts to force the prime minister to give parliament the chance to prevent a no-deal Brexit… One newspaper column at the weekend described her as the ‘selfish Ayatollah of Remain’ while a senior Tory was quoted as saying she was ‘about as popular as Himmler with the grassroots’.”
And where are the briefings coming from? Sylvester writes that what makes the latest bout of Tory infighting particularly toxic is the suspicion that some of the nastiness has been inspired by No 10.
As one Rudd ally puts it: “The attacks are definitely co-ordinated by No 10. They’ve been calling people and dumping on Amber. It’s disappointing.”