Over the weekend it became clear that the ERG is far from the well oiled political machine which Jacob Rees Mogg and Steve Baker like to proclaim it as . For months they have been pointing to the sword of Damocles they had suspended above Mrs May’s head . Considerable efforts they whispered were going into ensuring they wouldn’t accidentally trip over the threshold of 48 ‘no confidence ‘ letters prematurely . It would be at a moment of their choosing .
On Thursday they announced to the serried ranks of journalists that that moment had arrived.
Their patience with the hapless and hopeless Mrs May was at an end . The time for seeking to change the policy not the Leader had passed . With a flourish Mr Rees Mogg announced he would be submitting his letter to the chairman of the 1922 Committee requesting a confidence vote on Mrs May’s Leadership.
By Friday Steve Baker was using his favourite medium for exerting message discipline and coordinating lines to take – WhatsApp . Probably a dozen over the 48 threshold required he said .
But by Friday close of play no announcement was forthcoming from the august personage of Sir Graham Brady .Surely he could not have bunked of to his constituency without telling anyone the 48 letter mark had been reached. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Sir Graham would know that the answer to that question would be undoubtedly in the negative .However political journalists seemed slow to draw that conclusion.
Here is how the story unfolded over the weekend on Twitter
Steve Baker’s WhatsApp message of yesterday morning estimated ERG were 12 letters over 48 . But no announcement by close of play. Confirms what we all knew. What ERG members say ,even to each other , just can’t be trusted Busy weekend for Steve Baker getting pen put to paper
9:35 am – 17 Nov 2018
*confidence vote watch* Two more MPs confirm (off record) their letters are in…
2:09 pm – 17 Nov 2018
Replying to @BethRigby
Beth -progress so far way behind Steve Baker’s WhatsApp yesterday that ERG were a dozen over the 48 threshold . Which do you think more likely : 1. Sir Graham Brady bunked off early without telling anyone that 48 letters were in ? 2.Steve Baker’s count is thoroughly unreliable ?
Tom Newton Dunn on #Marr says public count of letters to Chair of 1922 is 25 and his private count is up to 40 Remember Steve Baker’s count in his Friday WhatsApp was about 60 Two things Media give way too much credit to Baker and Rees Mogg ERG lie to each other as well as us
10:10 am – 18 Nov 2018
Fascinating that Sir Graham Brady coming out to publicly discourage people sending in letters…..
Beth Rigby added,
Well that answers my question to you-‘ Steve Baker’s Fri WhatsApp said ERG were a dozen over the 48 threshold Which do you think more likely : 1. Sir Graham Brady bunked off early without telling anyone that 48 letters were in ? 2.Steve Baker’s count is thoroughly unreliable ?
11:41 am – 18 Nov 2018
But could it backfire? One person who has put letter in says this is likely to encourage those who would ‘let others do their dirty work’ to put their letters in now and force the vote…. https://t.co/gaiAK6Xcp9
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) 18 November 2018
Bruce McD @brucemcd23Replying to @BethRigby
What is clear is when Baker said on Friday on WhatsApp there were about 60 letters in he was way off.Even if after a weekend of arm twisting they creep over the line clearly their strength is well below what they represented .ERG need sceptical scrutiny every inch of the way
1:39 pm – 18 Nov 2018
Maybe I’ll be proved wrong but tastes like chicken coup to me… if the ERG can’t those letters in within the next 24/48 hours, it’s unlikely to happen
Exactly right . Anyway you look at it Rees Mogg and Baker have been exaggerating their strength . Baker’s Friday WhatsApp put number at around 60 . Even if after arm twisting they creep over the line on Monday it’s not well oiled performance of ERG machine as previously billed
It should be a point of Honour to see off the ERG and it’s hard right members who have been ruining the fortunes of our Party for years #enoughisenoughyouvegonetoofar
3:53 pm – 15 Nov 2018
Well said Sir Nicholas ERG and its zealots have been poisoning our politics for over 20 years
Sir Graham Brady tells @JPonpolitics that even his wife doesn’t know how many letters of no confidence in the PM he’s been sent
Replying to @RobBurl
Delivers his message with a conviction few current politicians muster and with a degree of humour. Marked comparison to Steve Baker . Who estimated ERG had submitted up to 60 letters on Friday morning. ERG patently not well oiled machine they are frequently portrayed
Replying to @Aiannucci
Just a chance. Tomorrow . If weekend’s non stop arm twisting hasn’t got them over the line they boasted of having passed on Friday morning. ERG will spontaneously combust in an outpouring of mutual loathing . As they suddenly find have no one to blame but each other
9:30 pm – 18 Nov 2018
There’s a reason – on display this weekend – why the right of the Tory party never (or hardly ever) gets to run the Tory party.
Even if after an intense weekend’s arm twisting ERG stumble over 48 letter threshold their reputation as well oiled political machine is in tatters . Baker’s Friday WhatsApp put number as up to 60 Trumpeted a strength they don’t have Baker and Rees Mogg overplayed hand
Anne Marie Morris told BBC Breakfast there was “no question” that the 48 letters would be reached this week.
She is also the ERG member who was wholly unconvincing on Politics Live last week when she trotted out the line that an announcement would be delayed until (a process she seemed to have invented )Chair of 1922 had rung around all no confidence correspondents to validate letters
Looks like its not just ERG who are embarrassed by Steve Baker’s Friday WhatsApp estimate of 60 letters already in turning out to be so wrong .Not only clear evidence ERG’s influence is not as strong as claimed but also shows absence of adequate pinches of salt from journalists