Over the weekend, Tory Brexiteers were targeted in a pretty brutal smear campaign. An anonymous Tory MP was quoted as saying May should ‘bring her own noose’ to tonights 1922 Committee meeting. Of course, the chattering classes went into moral outrage overdrive, there were calls to ‘out’ the mysterious commentator etc, etc.
Eventually, the finger was pointed at Andrew Bridgen MP, a particularly vocal critic of the PM. However, today, Mr Bridgen has pointed the finger of blame squarely at Number 10. It’s worth pointing out at this juncture the comments were initially reported in the Sunday Times, The Times lead the charge against Andrea Leadsom during the leadership campaign over comments she allegedly made attacking the PM’s lack of a child unsympathetically. It is fair to say that it is firmly in the May camp and is influenced by briefings from her team.
During an interview with Sky News, Mr Bridgen categorically denied it was him; “It was not me and I have thought about it and the only person, or the only people, that suit those sort of comments – which were very unhelpful and have got a lot of sympathy for the Prime Minister – is Number 10. I wouldn’t be surprised if Number 10 put those words out themselves knowing exactly the way that the press and the public would react. Even her most ardent critics… I can’t find anyone that could have said that.”
Tim Shipman, The Political Editor of the Sunday Times however denied it was a briefing from Number 10:
I’m not getting into the confirm/deny game on my sources, but even the way they were described in the paper should make it perfectly obvious that they were not working in Downing Street
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) October 24, 2018
In a separate incident, Stewart Jackson, former aide to David Davis and another ardent critic of the PM, was embroiled in controversy when he was accused of calling a sick child, pictured with his step-dad, holding an EU Flag in support of the Peoples Vote march, a “pathetic cretin”. Jackson clarified pointing out he was addressing the step-dad who was, after-all, using his sick step-son to make a political point, however, the media feeding frenzy continued, demanding Jackson offer an apology.
For a vicars daughter Mrs May has previously shown herself to be exceptionally proficient in the dark arts. With parts of the press undeniably fixed by her team and the radical changes at papers like the Mail it certainly seems like there is more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.