Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Tory MP confirms anti-Cameron plot

Col Bob Foster rejected the idea of standing for Tory leadership against David Cameron, saying it was silly

A Tory plot to oust David Cameron has been revealed after a backbench MP confirmed that he was asked to consider a "stalking horse" leadership challenge against the Prime Minister.

Colonel Bob Stewart said he was approached by two party colleagues before the summer recess with the proposal but that he told them to "get lost" and rejected the idea as "silly".

Details of the scheming was exposed by the Mail on Sunday which also reported that Tory MP Zac Goldsmith had offered his safe Tory seat to Boris Johnson.

Mr Goldsmith has vowed to resign as the MP for Richmond in south west London if the Government revives controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport - which is also fiercely opposed by the London Mayor.

The newspaper said that the idea of Mr Johnson fighting the subsequent by-election to secure a return to the Commons and the chance to challenge for the leadership was made in talks to discuss how best to oppose the airport expansion. The idea was said to have been dismissed "out of hand" by the Mayor, whose position as a potential challenger to Mr Cameron has been reinforced by the successful London Olympics.

Asked about the separate plot, Colonel Stewart, who was commanding officer of the British battalion in Bosnia, told the Press Association: "It was a silly suggestion that I dismissed. I told them to get lost. I was not having anything to do with it."

He declined to name the plotters and said he had not been told on whose behalf the pair were operating. "I do not know; I do not care," he said, insisting he remained loyal to Mr Cameron who was "the reason I came into politics".

"I may have rebelled by voting against House of Lords reform and on Europe but that does not make me disloyal. He is the leader of our country, the leader of our party and I believe in loyalty."

The Mayor's official spokesman said: "It's no surprise that the Mayor has met and will continue to meet those who share his concerns over the lack of aviation capacity in London and the South-East. But the story in question is without doubt fanciful."

Mr Goldsmith told the newspaper: "I saw Boris this week and we compared notes on Heathrow to see what we could do to kill off the third runway. We covered all sorts of possibilities. I would do anything I need to deliver to my constituents what I said I would."

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