There is much hullaballoo this morning about how slow the Tories were to act over David Ruffley, the disgraced MP who announced last night that he will not stand for Bury St. Edmunds at the next election following the fallout from his accepting a police caution after a violent domestic incident with his former partner.
Mr S understands that Ruffley told Tory High Command that his former partner had written a letter which downplayed the domestic incident and said that Ruffley’s acceptance of a caution was a way to resolve the issue quickly and amicably. It was thought that this letter, when produced, would head off criticism of Ruffley.
But the stern advocacy of the Dean of St. Edmundsbury, who is a close friend of Mr Ruffley’s former partner, made Tory HQ suspicious. ‘Why was she saying this?’ they asked, because it did not chime with Ruffley’s version of events. So they asked Ruffley to see that the letter was produced. No such letter was forthcoming.
Mr S hears tell that Messrs Gove and Shapps formed a ‘pincer movement’ over the weekend. They were prepared to give Bury St. Edmunds members the chance of a no-confidence vote in just a few weeks’ time, if Ruffley didn’t go of his own accord. Mr S also hears that several female Tory MPs, some of them rather grand, were planning to force the issue if Ruffley refused to budge.
Ruffley had lost the confidence of the party leadership and colleagues. He had to fall on his sword.
Mr S has asked Mr Ruffley for comment.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.