Speculation that Ann Widdecombe could become next Brexiteer peer in 'sell out' move
- Credit: AP
There is speculation Ann Widdecombe could become the next Brexiteer peer following a "sell out" move in which she supported Boris Johnson's controversial appointment of a disgraced Tory treasurer to the House of Lords.
The Mail on Sunday's Anna Mikhailova accused Widdecombe of using her latest newspaper column to defend the prime minister's ennoblement of Peter Cruddas.
Cruddas stepped down as Conservative Party co-treasurer in 2012 after being accused of offering access to then prime minister David Cameron in exchange for donations.
Johnson overruled the peerage watchdog to make Cruddas a life peer at the end of last year.
"Is the former Tory minister turned Strictly contestant Ann Widdecombe making another bid to step up into the Lords?" Mikhailova asked.
"For in her latest newspaper column, she defended Boris Johnson’s much-derided decision to give a peerage to Conservative donor Peter Cruddas."
She continued: "Widdecombe, 73, said it was an ‘outrage’ the episode was used to discredit Cruddas because the cash-for-access allegation was a ‘falsehood’.
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"Certainly, libel judge Sir Michael Tugendhat, father of Tom, the Tory MP, found in favour of Cruddas.
"But the Appeal Court largely reversed this, saying what Cruddas had proposed to the undercover journalists was ‘unacceptable, inappropriate and wrong’.
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"That was why the House of Lords Appointments Commission blocked Johnson’s earlier attempt to ennoble Cruddas."
She said that despite previous protestations against the size of the upper chamber, Widdecombe would not miss the chance to become a peer.
"Widdecombe once claimed she was an ‘obvious candidate’ for a peerage and that fresh appointments to the Upper Chamber were necessary to redress its ‘balance’," Mikhailova wrote.
"But in recent comments she described the Lords as ‘too bloated’ – although I’m sure she’d make an exception if asked."
In 2019, Nigel Farage claimed senior Brexit Party figures, including Widdecombe, were offered post-election roles or peerages in an attempt to get him to stand down more candidates during that year's general election, Guardian reported.
Widdecombe, the party’s candidate in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, was told she would be part of the government’s post-election Brexit negotiating team if she stood down, according to senior Brexit party officials.
The Conservative Party denied the claims. A spokesman said: "Neither the Conservative Party, nor its officials have offered Brexit party candidates jobs or peerages. We don’t do electoral pacts - our pact is with the British people.
"The only way to get Brexit done and unleash Britain’s potential is to vote for your local Conservative candidate, otherwise the country runs the risk of another deadlocked parliament, or even worse a Labour/SNP coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn who would subject Britain to two referendums in 2020."
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