ANNA MIKHAILOVA: No shortage of turkeys at Tory conference (but Christmas is another matter)

The collective lunacy of freezing your turkey two months before Christmas (as if it isn’t dry enough) has gripped the household of Oliver Dowden, I can reveal.

Before the party chairman set off for the Tory conference last week, his wife told him she was fearful of leaving festivities in his Government’s hands and therefore wanted to pre-order a bird now.

A source close to ‘Olive’, as he’s known in Cabinet, said the family had been debating the pre-order in some detail, down to how many grams of meat, until Daddy stepped in. Hold the turkey order, said Dowden as he left for Manchester, adding reassuringly: ‘Worst comes to worst, I know the butcher.’

At conference, the Minister without portfolio or turkey remained on message, telling the British public that Christmas will not be cancelled through a lack of poultry.

But as Government sources tell the MoS they ‘won’t hesitate’ to send in the Army to save our turkeys, who’d blame Mrs D for getting back on her Waitrose app?

Oliver Dowden, minister without portfolio has promised Britons that Christmas will not be cancelled through a lack of poultry

Oliver Dowden, minister without portfolio has promised Britons that Christmas will not be cancelled through a lack of poultry

Oliver Dowden, minister without portfolio has promised Britons that Christmas will not be cancelled through a lack of poultry

Before the party chairman set off for the Tory conference last week, his wife told him she was fearful of leaving festivities in his Government’s hands and therefore wanted to pre-order a turkey now

Before the party chairman set off for the Tory conference last week, his wife told him she was fearful of leaving festivities in his Government’s hands and therefore wanted to pre-order a turkey now

Before the party chairman set off for the Tory conference last week, his wife told him she was fearful of leaving festivities in his Government’s hands and therefore wanted to pre-order a turkey now

MP burns his bridges

For anyone doubting the febrile Tory mood over planning reforms, look no further than Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne, who sent a video of himself burning his conference lanyard to a WhatsApp group of party rebels.

Comrade Browne took offence at the blue lanyards because Thakeham, a developer planning 25,000 homes in his constituency, had sponsored them.

Another Tory replaced his lanyard with one sponsored by an arms company, telling colleagues that dealers in death were now more ‘socially acceptable’ than developers. 

Boris Johnson threw water on Browne’s pyrotechnics by using his speech to row back on planning reform by reassuring voters that greenbelt land would remain untouched and any new homes wouldn’t be ‘just jammed in the South East’.

Thakeham’s giant stall at the conference was spared any Guy Fawkesian antics from the Browne-ites, despite the developer, which has donated more than £600,000 to the Conservatives since 2017, posting videos of Johnson enthusiastically shaking hands with its team.

The irate MP for South Cambridgeshire and ex-adviser to Johnson used his mock-revolutionary video to dismiss as ‘totally untrue’ claims that he accused Thakeham of making that ‘donations given to the Tories means the Govt support’ the development in his constituency – something Thakeham denied. 

A developer expecting favours for cash? 

Whatever next.

Tory donors who had handed over £25,000 or more sipped tepid wine with Cabinet Ministers in a sweaty windowless nook called the Blue Room. 

Attendees included billionaire Michael Hintze and Malik Karim, the donor appointed co-Treasurer of the party. 

Developer Nick Candy was overheard describing failed mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey as ‘the future of the party’

Developer Nick Candy was overheard describing failed mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey as ‘the future of the party’

Developer Nick Candy was overheard describing failed mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey as ‘the future of the party’

Maurizio Bragagni, owner of cable firm Tratos, which sponsored the lounge, put out photos of Boris, Rishi and the gang filing in to pay their dues. 

Developer Nick Candy was overheard describing failed mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey as ‘the future of the party’. 

Who said money buys political nous?

In the bar at Manchester’s Midland Hotel, talk turned to comments by absentee Lord (Ian) Blair comparing Sarah Everard’s murder to those of two young girls in Soham, forgetting that as Met Commissioner he said ‘almost nobody can understand’ why Soham was such a big story. 

Just as almost nobody can understand your lack of self-awareness, Ian.

How’s it going at News Movement? 

That’s the ethical ‘new media’ company being launched by Will Lewis – who steered Rupert Murdoch’s response to the hacking scandal – and sacked BBC greed correspondent Kamal Ahmed, who admitted he ‘did not think things through sufficiently’ when accepting £12,000 for a speech to an investment firm on top of his £205,000 salary.

The duo’s focus is now on ‘trusted, objective information’, which is why Ahmed was boasting to conference delegates last week that Lord (Michael) Spencer has been giving him ‘sage advice’ about how to start the business. 

That’s Spencer, the former party treasurer whose company has donated millions to the Tories, and a shareholder of the firm behind GB News.

Perfectly placed to advise the pair on impartiality, then.

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