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Rishi Sunak mocked in leaked WhatsApps as grassroots Tories vow to ‘go to war’ with party’s liberals | Politics News

Grassroots Conservative supporters are saying they want to oust Rishi Sunak and “go to war” with the liberal wing of the party in leaked WhatsApp messages obtained by Sky News.

We have obtained the discussions amongst members of the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), founded in December 2022 by donor and Johnson-backer Lord Peter Cruddas after the ousting of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

The group has had high profile support from senior figures on the right of the Conservative Party. Its conference in May featured speeches from Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries.

The leaked WhatsApps show the vitriol among some of its members aimed at Mr Sunak, little expectation of victory in the general election and a desire to take back control of the Tory party for the right, post-election.

A Tory source said that it was wrong to characterise Mr Sunak as being on the liberal wing of the party, saying he is “significantly more Conservative than Boris Johnson”.

Some of the screenshots suggest a handful of members believe in conspiracies, referring to “globalists” and a WEF government – a reference to the World Economic Forum held in Davos – which some conspiracy theorists believe to be home of a secretive world government which benefits elites.

Sky News has not named any of the activists involved, and not published the screenshots, since the participants in these conversations are not nationally significantly figures.

Several of the messages show the anger felt towards other wings of the Conservative party.

One activist said: “It’s time to go to war … unfortunately it’s with the liberals in our party. Needs to be done we need the party back.”

They go on: “Listening to my local party’s WhatsApp broadcast it’s like the last days of Rome… carrying on with the same old policies that have lost year after year. Ignoring actual conservatives and a conservative message… preferring to appear liberal to appease the middle class liberal climate guilt voters…. Personally I can’t see past the cowardice…. I’m pretty sure that’s all the public see too.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Curzon Street railway station in Birmingham where the HS2 rail project is under construction.
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The WhatsApp messages, almost all this year and some from the last few weeks, show:

• Members of the group mocking Mr Sunak, one saying he has the charisma of a “doorknob”. Another says he is “uninspiring” and saying the “govt can’t get anything right”, and characterise it as a party of “globalists”.

• Members of the CDO believe that Sunak, who voted for Brexit, is governing like a “remainer”. “CDO needs to rethink Rishi and pals, remainers have a firm hold on the party”, says an activist. Another says: “It’s no longer a conservative government I would vote for.”

• Some calling on them to remove Mr Sunak before the election, others hoping for a return of Boris Johnson. Others think an election will help Conservatives “find out who their voters are and rebuild from there”.

• Many rail about the way he was chosen to be leader, saying he “trampled democracy underfoot”. He became prime minister unopposed after Tory MPs ousted Ms Truss. Another said: “He staged a coup”.

• Many have given up winning the next election, with one saying “we’re gunna (sic) be out of power for a lot longer than 4 years and giving (sic) the cultural shift we may never get back in”.

• Others tout alternative leaders. An activist asks: “Is Tom Harwood a Conservative. If he is, he would make an ideal prime minister”. Mr Harwood is a political journalist at GB News.

• The group also criticises Mr Sunak’s cabinet. During the reshuffle earlier this month, one queried Grant Shapps’ appointment to the defence brief. “I just don’t find Shapps credible. Certainly not to take over the mantle from Wallace who was beyond excellent.” Another calls him a “crony appointment; Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Some CDO WhatsApp members see a conspiracy behind the poor performance from the Tories.

One says: “No party can be this incompetent on purpose. It’s got to be by design. And the only conclusion I can come to of why they would do this, is that they are all bought and paid for, same for Labour and the other cretins in parliament.

“Someone is pulling the strings to turn our country into a third world s**thole”.

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However, other members rejected the conspiracy theories.

One member of the Yorkshire CDO group said: “Infighting is what they’re best at. Who can stop that? Factions have formed and need breaking up. Who can do that? We can help if we’re not amongst them.

“They all need to see sense – immediately. But we need to know who’s in which faction in order to set targets to break them up.”

The majority of the group appears to have clear boundaries. When one commenter talks about Londistan and makes a link to Sadiq Khan, others jump in to condemn them, saying the CDO does not tolerate racism and that “true Conservatives are inclusive”.

Claire Bullivant, co-founder and chief executive of the CDO, said: “The CDO is a place for everyone who cares about democracy, and we certainly aren’t made up of just Conservative Party members.

“In fact, we have a lot of members who belong to Reform and other parties who all hold different views on various politicians. Some love Rishi, some don’t. Some want Boris back, some don’t.

“It’s normal… it’s by the by. What we care about is democracy and bringing a voice back to the people.

She added: “I personally follow the Ronald Reagan principle as I am a Conservative and I don’t really like bashing fellow Tories.

“But you’re showing me WhatsApp messages that could have been written by anyone who has joined some of our WhatsApp groups.”

She went on to welcome the publication of the leaks by Sky News.

“Of course the media will try and make a story about it. Go for it. Thank you for the publicity,” she said.

“It’s great that more people will hear about us. More and more people are joining CDO everyday.

“Like us they want democracy, and they want a centre right party that believes in free people, free markets, free speech, small governments and low taxes.

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“The fact is no-one wants Starmer, no-one wants 20mph limits, no-one wants unions running the show, no-one wants wokery, no-one wants ULEZ expansions and big government breathing down your neck every second. The average man on the street does not want Labour.

“I’m proud of what the CDO has achieved in such a short time and this is just the start. We have a great relationship with CCHQ and are excited to work with the Conservative Party moving forward.”

Teacher strikes: More walkouts loom as unions vow to coordinate action in autumn | UK News

Every state school in England could face more strikes in the autumn, after teaching unions vowed to coordinate walkouts if they go ahead.

The move means 400,000 members from the National Education Union (NEU), Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT and Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) could trigger widespread disruption as part of the long-running dispute over pay.

However, only the NEU currently holds a mandate to strike, with members set to take action on Tuesday. It will re-ballot its members over summer over whether to continue walkouts.

NAHT and the NASUWT teaching union both failed to make the 50% threshold in its latest balloting, and will ask members again ahead of the autumn term.

The ASCL will also ballot its members – the first time in its history.

Asked about the impact of possible co-ordinated strike action at the NAHT’s annual conference in Telford, Mr Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “I think with our four unions you would find that every state school in England would be affected by the dispute and that would put you up at 300,000-400,000 teachers… involved in taking the action, I would have thought.

“We don’t want to take it. We want to find a solution. But with all four of us acting together I think we will all pass the government’s undemocratic thresholds and so it would be an enormous response from our members.

“We would sincerely apologise to parents for disrupting their children’s education if we’re pushed to that. And we would sincerely apologise to them for disrupting their home and their working lives. However, what we are seeing is disruption in children’s education every week of the school year.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, told the conference: “I have been around a decade and I have never seen the co-ordination that we are seeing here.”

The latest move from teaching unions comes after the government offered teachers a £1,000 one-off payment for this year, as well as a 4.5% pay rise for next year.

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Schools to face co-ordinated strikes

Read more:
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All four unions rejected the offer.

A decision on pay for education staff has been given to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “For unions to co-ordinate strike action with the aim of causing maximum disruption to schools is unreasonable and disproportionate, especially given the impact the pandemic has already had on their learning.

“Children’s education has always been our absolute priority, and they should be in classrooms where they belong.

“We have made a fair and reasonable teacher pay offer to the unions, which recognises teachers’ hard work and commitment as well as delivering an additional £2bn in funding for schools, which they asked for.”

Nicola Bulley: Police vow to bring missing mum home as they urge search teams to scour river bank for clothes | UK News

Police searching for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley have vowed to “bring her home” as they called on members of the public to keep a look out for sightings of her clothes.

Officers believe the 45-year-old “sadly” fell into the River Wyre while she was walking her dog last Friday morning.

Search teams from Lancashire Constabulary are continuing to trawl the waterway near St Michael’s.

They are being helped by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – with sniffer dogs, drones, and police helicopters also being used.

Read more:
A timeline of Ms Bulley’s movements in the hour before she vanished
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‘We believe Nicola sadly fell into river’

Meanwhile, they have urged the public to look out along the river for the items of clothing that Ms Bulley was last seen wearing.

This includes an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.

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Retracing Nicola Bulley’s journey

Detectives are also analysing CCTV and dashcam videos, and members of the public with footage which could be useful have been urged to come forward.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Superintendent Sally Riley said there may have been an “issue with the dog that led her to the water’s edge, she puts her phone down to go and deal with the dog momentarily, and Nicola may have fallen in”.

Police have speculated that Nicola Bulley had an issue with her dog, Willow.
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Police have speculated that Nicola Bulley had an issue with her dog, Willow.

However, Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell, 44, said he would “never lose hope” of finding her.

“We’re never, ever going to lose hope, of course we’re not, but it is as though she has vanished into thin air. It’s just insane,” he said.

The 44-year-old said his “whole focus is my two girls” and that he was “hoping to goodness” that people would come forward with new information.

Trade unions vow to fight government over strike legislation to ‘keep Britain moving’ during strikes | Politics News

The government is pressing ahead to introduce legislation which will require transport workers to run a minimum service when strikes are taking place.

It comes after commuters have been plagued by months of travel chaos caused by industrial action by railway workers, who are calling for better pay, working conditions and job security.

But trade unions have insisted the proposals will undermine workers’ right to strike and have promised to defend their members.

New chancellor warns of ‘tough decisions’ ahead – Politics latest

The legislation is part of a pledge made by the prime minister to introduce such a bill within the first 30 days of parliament sitting.

Liz Truss is aiming to ensure transport services, including rail, tubes and buses, cannot be completely shutdown when workers go on strike.

“The government stood on a manifesto commitment to introduce minimum service levels. As we have seen only too often in recent months, it is wrong that strikes are preventing hard-working people and families up and down the country from getting to work, doctors’ appointments and school,” a government source said.

“That is why we are introducing this legislation, to keep Britain moving, ensure people can get to work, earn their own living and grow the economy.”

The minimum service levels law is expected to come into force next year.

Similar legislation already exists in some western European countries, such as France and Spain, but unions have criticised the move as being “unworkable”.

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What are rail workers asking for?

‘Unfair, unworkable and incompatible’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the proposals “undermine the right to strike” and called for the government to “stop blocking negotiations” to allow workers and unions to reach an agreement

“Truss and her ministers want to make it harder for workers to win better pay and conditions. It’s a cynical distraction from their own failings,” he said.

“The changes are unfair, unworkable and incompatible with our international commitments. Trade unions will oppose them every step of the way.”

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‘Time for union bosses to get out of the way’

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Lynch said the restrictions will only make it “more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement” in the current rail dispute.

“We already have the most draconian and restrictive anti-trade union laws in Western Europe,” he said.

“Working people are fed up with the government trying to make them scapegoats for the country’s problems.”

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers union Aslef, described the idea as “stupid”, adding that it shows Ms Truss wants to make industrial action “ineffective”.