Déjà vu all over again as top Tory says right wingers are ‘swivel-eyed’

Written by David Singleton on 29 January 2018 in Diary

Claire Perry blasted Brexiteers during a private chat with fellow MPs.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr show yesterday, David Lidington - aka ‘the prime minister’s effective deputy’ - urged Conservative MPs to “come together in a spirit of mutual respect”.

So it is with exquisite timing that The Telegraph’s Steven Swinford has obtained a private WhatsApp message from recently-promoted climate change minister Claire Perry.

In the private message, sent in December, Perry tore into Tory Brexiteers of a certain vintage:

"The 'sell out traitor mob' should be ignored…  I would hypothesise that they are mostly elderly retired men who do not have mortgages, school-aged children or caring responsibilities so they represent the swivel-eyed few not the many we represent."

Perry, who is not known as the shy-and-retiring type, has since said that “passions were running high” and insisted that she was specifically referring to those Tory MPs who had branded colleagues ‘traitors’ for opposing a hard Brexit.

But of course, Perry is not the first senior Tory to (allegedly) apply the “swivel-eyed” jibe to Tory right wingers.

In 2013 Lord Feldman, the old pal of David Cameron who was then Conservative co-chairman, found himself at the centre of a political storm when it was claimed that he had referred to Tory activists as "mad, swivel-eyed loons" in private comments to reporters.

While Feldman denied the charge, a number of Tory MPs were incandescent with rage. Meanwhile The Guardian’s guide to spotting a swivel-eyed loon noted that they are "generally to be found lurking in the grass roots, especially near local Conservative associations and seaside shopping precincts in the home counties and the south-west".


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