Senior minister blasts Tory backbench ‘zealots' and 'old buffers' in leaked WhatsApp messages

Posted On: 
10th February 2019

A senior minister used a WhatsApp group to attack “zealots” on the Tory backbenches who are more interested in arguing than winning elections, leaked messages show.

Claire Perry leaving Downing Street in November
Credit: 
PA Images

Claire Perry hit out at the “posse of old buffers” who she said had retaken control of the party, in a string of scathing comments which followed Tory MP Christopher Chope’s move to block a to crack down on female genital mutilation.

The Christchurch MP was branded “appalling” on Friday after he used arcane parliamentary procedure to obstruct an amendment to the 1989 Children Act.

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He has drawn anger in the past for blocking bills that would have made taking photos up skirts a criminal offence and another that would have pardoned codebreaker Alan Turing after his conviction for homosexuality.

In WhatsApp messages leaked to BuzzFeed News, the Energy Minister said the Tories were at risk of becoming a “party of the shires and shores again” that sits in opposition “talking utter b******s”.

She said Mr Chope and Brexiteer colleagues Peter Bone and Bernard Jenkin "don't give a toss" - which she said was also clear in their approach to the Irish backstop part of Theresa May's Brexit deal.

"They are not politicians they are zealots for whom winning an argument beats winning an election,” she wrote in the group for female Tory MPs.

Ms Perry added: "Is anyone else bored to sobs with fighting this posse of old buffers who have achieved their dream of taking over the party again?"

"Here’s my prediction: mass exodus of Tory talent at the next election just like the last (both voluntary and involuntary) so we can retreat to being an oppo party of the white shires and Shores and we can talk to each other all day long about utter bollocks!

"Oh and those Bally Europeans! A plague on them too! We showed them! Hilarious if it were not so tragic. I’m off to try and help win a by election. Talking to real people not these antediluvian old sods. Have a jolly day ladies!"

Ms Perry also backed the Prime Minister, who she said was "killing herself" to deliver a Brexit deal, while the "bunch of old white men no doubt are enjoying their morning coffee served to them by their long suffering wives".

In response to the messages leaked to the website, Ms Perry said: “As you know I never comment on leaks to the media and I think it’s a good time to stick to that rule.

“But I will say that I have spoken to 3 different associations and two business groups in the past 36 hours and the overwhelming view is that we should back the PM, deliver the deal and avoid a disastrous no deal Brexit that a number of people on the hard right of my party appear to crave."