Blog: ANDREW PIERCE: Are the Spartans set on a new Brexit battle? – Daily Mail

ANDREW PIERCE: Are the Spartans set on a new Brexit battle?

By Andrew Pierce for the Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Are the Spartans, the Brexit hardliners in the Tory Party, regrouping to challenge Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework?

Mark Francois, the doughty chief whip of the group, is updating his book Spartan Victory in which he tells the inside story of the battle for Brexit.

The Spartans may be reduced in number — there used to be 28 of them — because some of the originals, including the current Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker, have said they support the Windsor deal.

But with Francois furiously updating his book, there’s every indication that others still don’t believe the Brexit battle has been won and they are preparing for a new Thermopylae.

The Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC was, of course, when 300 Spartan warriors fought to the death against a vast Persian Army in one of history’s most famous last stands.

‘Are the Spartans, the Brexit hardliners in the Tory Party, regrouping to challenge Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework?’

 The ‘Spartans’ gather at the Carlton Club after their dinner

According to Francois’ book, our modern-day Spartans knew that, if they stuck to their guns over Theresa May’s unacceptable Brexit deal, May would resign. Whether a last stand against Rishi Sunak would have the same effect is open to question.

Overheard in the Commons, one Tory MP saying: ‘Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework is a ‘Windsor Knot’ which has us tied by the throat ever closer to the EU.’ 

Rishi Sunak and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen had lunch in Windsor of Coronation chicken and cucumber sandwiches. Where did they get the cucumbers? 

Britain’s first woman Speaker, the late Betty Boothroyd, used to become exasperated by drawn-out meetings at the House of Commons Commission, which she chaired. 

Sir Malcolm Jack, Clerk of the Commons between 2006-11, reveals: ‘After such a session, once the room was cleared, she pointed at a hidden drinks cabinet. I knew my duty as secretary to the commission and, reaching for the gin bottle inside, I prepared a strong gin and tonic for her and one for me.’ 

In the smart private members’ club 5 Hertford Street, ex-Chancellors Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng were locked in deep conversation.

Over an expensive bottle of claret, they were overheard swapping notes on how they were sacked. Zahawi was booted out on the telephone by Rishi Sunak in January over his tax affairs, Kwarteng by Liz Truss after he cut short a trip to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) in Washington in a doomed effort to save her short-lived premiership.

‘Despite the claret, neither of them looked happy,’ I was told.

It was one of the stand-out moments during his visit to Parliament last month, when President Volodymyr Zelensky presented Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (right) with a Ukrainian fighter pilot’s helmet. 

Now it appears the helmet could be put to good use — Sir Lindsay’s thinking of grabbing it if things get testy. ‘We’ve put it on display in Speaker’s House so when I’m walking into the Chamber, I could quickly put it on,’ he told LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

‘If things get a bit out of hand . . . it’s always there!’

Look out on eBay for a defunct ministerial Red Box and 15 fancy folders bearing the inscription Department for International Trade. 

They were commissioned at a cost of £7,260, after Theresa May created the so-called Whitehall powerhouse in 2016. The department has been disbanded by Rishi Sunak so they have no practical value.

As for their historical importance, the drawback is that previous custodians include Dr Liam Fox and Liz Truss … which is unlikely to increase their worth.

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ANDREW PIERCE: Are the Spartans set on a new Brexit battle? 

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