PM's reshuffle 'secrets' overheard on a train

 

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Sometimes the most useful information surfaces in a surprising way.

Amidst the swirl of reshuffle speculation, a conversation overheard on the 16:43 from Chichester to London Victoria has provided something more concrete.

Well, I say overheard - by all accounts the very loud phone call was more of a broadcast of confidential and very sensitive information.

This is the account posted the next day on Facebook.

facebook post

Ian plainly refers to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith. Esther would be Esther McVey, the MP and former TV presenter tipped for a top job in the re-shuffle - which it seems is now imminent.

The facts fit the timings. IDS was indeed in Portsmouth that afternoon, meeting Portsmouth South Conservative Flick Drummond at the "allAboutTea" shop on his way back from a speech to the Local Government Association in Bournemouth. But the other convincing factor is the listener's naivete about politics.

The person listening was Sarah Quinney, a 35-year-old stage manager who says she spends much too much time on trains, and has no political interest, but knew this conversation was different.

"She was almost like a teenager showing off, look at me - the Big "I am" - so loud and posh, and the end of every sentence was inflected. It was very annoying."

Sarah Quinney says she was sitting right behind the woman, who was talking to a man though she couldn't hear his end of the conversation.

"The call kept dropping out because of the tunnels but she rang him straight back, talking about Ian and Esther. She didn't seem to care. She said 'Ian wants to go and has agreed to go, he's been fed up for a while waiting for decisions from the Treasury'."

"She said someone called Esther wants to take over but is worried that she's been too much of a bitch, p***ed too many people off.

"She said she'd just come from meeting Flick Drummond in Portsmouth - who was described by the caller as 'not very savvy'."

The Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South Flick Drummond today confirmed she had met Ian Duncan Smith and his team, but said she herself had no knowledge of the re-shuffle.

"All I can say is that people should be more careful when they are speaking on the phone in public places," she added.

Friends of Mr Duncan Smith - responding to separate rumours that he is to be moved from the DWP - have told BBC News he is going nowhere.

Romilly Dennys, a DWP special adviser, is at the centre of speculation that she was the woman on the train talking about the reshuffle.

"It is just complete nonsense... some person on a train has heard two names and managed to cobble together a story," she said.

"I am pretty convinced she (Quinney) is a Labour supporter.

"The whole thing is just a complete storm in a teacup. Someone overheard two names and she just created this whole story. The story is completely incorrect".

 
Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

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  • rate this
    +127

    Comment number 29.

    Well if the NSA and GCHQ can listen in why shouldn't everybody else?

  • rate this
    +112

    Comment number 122.

    None of them are fit to be set in authority over us.

    Tory - uncaring, jobs for the boys, hateful, oblivious to anyone under £100k pa and utterly slimy (never again, Cameron you sleaze)

    Labour - incompetent, bandwagon riding, lazy, spineless, useless and entrenched in the 19th Century.

    Liberal - Liars, liars, liars, power hungry, pointless, fence sitting liars.

    Hate the whole lot of them.

  • rate this
    +70

    Comment number 10.

    She said "I am pretty convinced she (Quinney) is a Labour supporter."

    Tells you everything you need to know. This is a real story, and the fact that they are "convinced" that she was a labour supporter tells you how paranoid and threatened they felt over this. Politicians only know one way when under attack, and that is to attack and thats what they've done here, trying to blame the labour party?

  • rate this
    +69

    Comment number 45.

    God help us all if that horrible (would love to use stronger words for her) woman McVey gets more power....you have been warned. I wouldnt trust her, like ALL politicians as far as I could throw them!! There again I would love to throw them all in the sea and no particular sea either.

  • rate this
    +63

    Comment number 106.

    @ 95.Chris

    Yes I do remember work, 54 years of it to be precise. Previously voted Conservative all my life, never again. If you really cant see that this is the most spiteful and divisive government in living memory, then you are as disingenuous as they are. No more votes from me, ever.

 

Comments 5 of 650

 

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