Tory leader contenders smeing each other is pure political noir | Conservative leadership

IIt has all the works of a political noir: a secret meeting in a Westminster pub where a machiavellian operator rotating for a would -be prime minister gives a dossier of evidence to the opposition party to discredit their rival.

And like all the best Westminster rumors, it has a basis in fact. But the truth is probably more incredible than the story. The fact is that many campaigns have contacted the Labor party to spread rumors about their rivals.

Not all are fully formed – just titbits sent to WhatsApp where sources suggest further investigation. But it’s a sign of how bitter the race to become the next Tory leader – and prime minister – has turned so fast.

The propaganda flying around includes annoying rumors of matters, business deals and questionable tax status. Not everyone can meet the test in the public interest. Those facing planted attacks so far include the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, but there are also expected concerted efforts to weaken the campaigns of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

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On Monday, an ally of home secretary Priti Patel was forced to admit that he shared a memo sent to Tory WhatsApp groups attacking Sunak’s economic record. Patrick Robertson denied that he was the author of the document when confronted by the Times but he admitted he shared it.

The memo gives a taste of the bitterness that is likely to permeate the campaign against Sunak if he does the last two. It accused Sunak of “a failed budget for March 2022 of sporadic contradictions, tax increases and fraud that contradicted analysis, logic or understanding”.

The memo also said Sunak “publicly lied not once but twice when seeking to explain his wife’s‘ non-dom ’tax status”. And it features the ex-chancellor’s alleged opportunism, claiming that “he launched his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative party with a website domain registered in December 2021”.

“Being ‘Ready for Rishi’ means supporting a candidate who, like Boris, has received a Partygate fine from the police for violating lockdown rules.”

Other candidates are also coming in unscathed by bad briefings about culture war issues. Penny Mordaunt, whose allies have said she has one of the most organized and rebellious campaigns with a high number of supporters, will soon disappear from sight after being rude for her former vocal support. on trans rights.

He was forced to issue a multi-tweet thread denied that she had “awakened” and insisted that she had previously “challenged trans orthodoxy”, but was then again weakened by rivals including Suella Braverman who said she supported the use of gender-neutral language in a bill.

Senior Labor figures could not believe their luck where the dividing lines were drawn. The party is most vulnerable on issues of cultural warfare-mostly because of the public belief that the party is too obsessed with identity politics-and with the economy, where focus groups show that voters do not trust in Labor spending.

“Having a Conservative leadership contest where candidates are isolating themselves in cultural wars rather than cost-of-living makes them go unnoticed-and you have candidates who make absolutely ridiculous- laugh taxes and promises to spend along with the extra money for big business, “a Labor adviser said. “It couldn’t be better in terms of our vulnerabilities to voters.”