By David Campbell Bannerman (Former Conservative MEP for East of England 2009-19).

So we have had the first ballot in the Leadership contest and it’s looking like Rishi Sunak is ahead amongst MPs, but well behind on the membership vote.

Rishi’s appallingly self serving, devious and brutal behaviour towards Boris, his Socialist polices, and the fact he is a plastic Brexiteer  – Vote Leave tell me he only attended one dinner and no one has any photos of him campaigning in the Referendum – will he post some? This means he must be stopped to keep the Conservative Party in one piece and not see Keir Starmer merely anointed in Number 10.

“I trust in Liz Truss. I urge MPs and the wider membership to do so too.”

So, who can most effectively challenge Rishi’s bid that is the question? Reports are that Penny Mordaunt is emerging fast as the main challenger, but this should be deeply concerning to those supporting Brexit and freedom of speech.

On first sight, I can see Penny’s appeal – she is presentable, young, strong on defence which I like, has undertaken a number of ministerial appointments, and actually campaigned for Brexit in the Referendum. Indeed I welcomed her to Norwich with Boris in the Referendum off the red bus.

But I am afraid that closer and deeper inspection of her record means that I, as a senior Brexiteer and someone who gave up my MEP job for that cause, simply cannot support her; indeed I feel she is a direct threat to a real Brexit; and I would urge MPs to look behind the media hype and see the reality. She like Rishi – a plastic Brexiteer.

Penny denies being ‘woke’ but her record confirms she is. Various Lords have said they had to alter her ‘Gender Recognition Bill’ to replace ‘pregnant person’ to ‘woman’ rather than her. She has failed to convince on this woke agenda nonsense; and one of her key backers is Caroline Nokes MP, woke Chairman of the Women and Equalities Committee.

Things can be said in TV interviews and in quick articles that might leave room for correction and interpretation, but not with a book. Books require far more thought, careful choice of words and meaning. Her book, ‘Greater: Britain after the storm’, is a revelation.

This is not the work of a true Brexiteer defending British Sovereignty – and she certainly oes wrap herself in the Union Flag often- no, this is a corporatist Globalist agenda, beloved of the EU, endorsed by big EU Remainer names from Tony Blair to Richard Branson and Tobias Ellwood. The Foreword is even written by Bill Gates. It is Woke / WEF Central.

The book suggests Penny dislikes TV shows likes ‘Dad’s Army’ as overly nostalgic and uses the dreaded – actually racist – phrase ‘white privilege’ and allegations of racism of ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’. The death of comedy is the hallmark of this woke fascism now comprehensively threatening our freedoms and rights.

She is an enthusiast for Net Zero by 2030, in line with World Economic Forum (WEF) goals and seems to be truly a disciple of their teachings. All this wokeness, weakness and extreme green targets are exactly what the next Conservative Leader needs to escape from; not build on. There would be no difference with Labour with such an approach; and voters would give up or back UKIP-style parties.

Now Lord Frost even questions her basic competence – alleging she had to be dropped as his deputy adviser after six months as she couldn’t master the detail and frequently disappeared. Prime Ministers need to master detail rapidly on a host of policy areas and need to be dependable.

Of superficial attraction, I am afraid MPs have a duty to see the reality – that Penny is more Lib Dem than Conservative, and doesn’t have the necessary proven abilities to risk stepping in as Prime Minister. I don’t mean to be harsh but sorry this is a bruising game of rugby that I didn’t want to see happen, and the artificially compressed process means realities must be faced.

The only credible opponent to beat front runner Rishi Sunak is Liz Truss. Liz has the necessary high level Cabinet experience, toughness and decisiveness. She has become a keen Brexiteer, as evidenced by support from Jacob Rees Mogg, ERG Chairman Mark Francois and former Party Leader Iain Duncan Smith amongst others. She is the heavyweight Brexit team leader.

Liz has the conviction of a convert, and has been best at delivering Brexit opportunities: a whole host of valuable trade deals the EU has failed to deliver on (I know as I sat on their trade committee for 10 years). She has come out fighting on the Protocol Bill too, which as a former Special Adviser on the Northern Ireland Peace Process I know to be vital. She will cut taxes, remove unnecessary red tape, create Thatcher like enterprise zones, shake up obstructive Whitehall, lead on world affairs and deliver more Brexit opportunities as Prime Minister. I love the ‘Aspiration nation’ concept. That was the point of Brexit.

I trust in Liz Truss. I urge MPs and the wider membership to do so too. We really can’t afford to take risks when we are choosing an immediate Prime Minister not just a Party Leader. She will deliver.

Follow David Campbell Bannerman on Twitter.

This article first appeared in the Telegraph on 14 July 2022

Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Photo licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.



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