The little-known international trade minister, James Duddridge, got his few moments of fame when he declared on Saturday that 100 of his fellow MPs had declared to support Boris Johnson. The figure was quoted everywhere, with the BBC, the Sun on Sunday and the Sunday Express all reporting it with varying degrees of credulity.
It would appear Johnson’s backers did eventually collect 102 names but the question is when, and whether any were “sympathy votes” registered after his withdrawal. Even the pro-Johnson Guido Fawkes website had the disgraced ex-PM short by over 20 names when he pulled out of the contest, a development that took “Dudders” so much by surprise that he tweeted: “Well, that was unexpected. Off to bed.”
The whole affair was Duddridge’s greatest moment since the occasion when, as minister for Africa, he attended the funeral of one of the continent’s leading politicians and expressed his condolences to “his family, the people of Zimbabwe and indeed the wider world”. Alas, he was in Zambia at the time, attending a service for the country’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda.