Today The Times have splashed on the revelation that Baroness Warsi is defecting from Out to In as a result of the ‘hate and xenophobia’ peddled by Leave. Given that the paper have run the news on its front page, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Leave camp really are ‘in turmoil’ over the defection of a ‘leading Tory’.
Only there is a small snag. Vote Leave say they were never aware she was a supporter, while Dan Hannan says Warsi declined his invitation for her to join the Leave campaign:
When I invited Sayeeda Warsi to join the Leave campaign, she declined. Fair enough, obviously. But how is this a "defection"?
— Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) June 19, 2016
Now even The Times don’t seem so sure about the report. In the paper’s second edition, the story has been watered down with a milder headline — simply saying the Brexit camp is ‘divided’ as Warsi walks out:
Mr S suspects it’s for the best that the paper has climbed down. After all, Steerpike is amazed that Warsi managed to convince the paper’s editors that she was so influential in the Brexit debate. While Warsi was involved in Brexit talks with Dan Hannan and Matthew Elliott dating back to 2015, she has also spoken in the past about her desire for Britain to remain a member of the EU. What’s more, she has barely spoken about Brexit in recent months. Judging by her Twitter, the thing she has been most vocal about in the EU debate is her dislike for the Leave campaign. The one time she does say she supports Vote Leave, it is to criticise them:
For those of us committed to @vote_leave this unholy alliance between small minded little islanders & optimistic hello worlders is a strain!
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 7, 2016
At the beginning of June, Warsi even co-signed a letter to the Guardian — along with Doreen Lawrence and Shaki Chakrabarti — demanding an apology from Farage on ITV’s EU referendum programme over his claim that migrants could put women in Britain at risk of sexual assaults.
Warsi has since taken to the airwaves on Today this morning to claim that she was ‘making the case to leave long before Vote Leave had been established’. However, given that any such efforts barely made a mark in the current campaign, it’s a stretch to suggest the Leave camp are divided over her exit — let alone ‘in turmoil’.