By Peter Hoskin
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The most explosive scrap of Tory politics today is contained in this article in the Evening Standard. It’s about a new book (Britannia Unchained, released on 13th September) by five of the 2010 intake: Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elizabeth Truss. And it contains some blunt, no-nonsense quotations from this quintet. “Too many people in Britain … prefer a lie-in to hard work,” they say. And then they top that with the observation, “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.” It’s ill-chosen rhetoric — even if there are sensible points about global competitiveness and productivity behind it — because it seems too sweeping in its condemnation. Labour have duly urged David Cameron to “distance himself from this attack on hard-working families”.
But, in terms of internal party politics, it’s not so much those passages that explode off the page, as this:
“Mr Kwarteng said: ‘We need to look beyond Europe for economic success. We should be starting now. There is no reason why we can’t be pushing ahead with a lot of this.
Boris, when he talks about big infrastructure projects, deregulation and cutting taxes, is absolutely on the money.’
He added: ‘There is definitely a new Right which is much more international in its focus. The old Tory Right are a busted flush.’”
This could be taken as an attack in two directions. There’s the description of the “old Tory Right” as “a busted flush”, of course. But also the barely concealed support for Boris’s “stop pussyfooting around” jab at Number 10 from two days ago. At the very least, Kwarsi’s “new Right” seems to be up for a fight.
And this is particularly intriguing because the authors of this book are not without a chance of being promoted (indeed, three of them feature in Matthew’s selection of ten ministerial prospects from the 2010 intake). So perhaps they feel that they and their ideas will be allowed into government anyway. Or perhaps they don’t much care about promotion into Cameron’s upper ranks, ahead of espousing their own ideas. Either one would tell you something about where politics is at right now.
8.30om update: ConservativeHome understands that the Evening Standard broke embargo on the Britannia Unchained book and may not have accurately reflected its contents.