Cameron vetoed my peerage because I opposed foxhunting, claims Ann Widdecombe

  • Former Tory MP claims she was set to join House of Lords until PM go tinvolved
  • Pair had disagreements over hunting ban, which Widdecombe supported strongly
  • Former Prisons Minister had opposed Cameron as party leader, calling him 'big headed'
  • Tell-all memoir includes attacks on senior Torys including Michael Portillo and Iain Duncan Smith

By Simon Walters, Mail on Sunday Political Editor

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David Cameron blocked a peerage for Ann Widdecombe allegedly because of her opposition to fox hunting, the former Tory MP says.  

In a new book, serialised in The Mail on Sunday, she says that as a former Minister she ‘had a strong probability’ of joining the House of Lords when she left the Commons in 2010.

But she says Mr Cameron, a supporter of hunting, was determined to stop it.

Unburdened: Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has revealed the details of her rise to the top of politics in her memoir

Unburdened: Former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has revealed the details of her rise to the top of politics in her memoir

Ann Widdecombe
David Cameron

Agree to disagree: David Cameron and Ann Widdecombe were on opposite sides of the fox hunting debate. She writes that rumours circled Westminster that the PM had 'set his face against' her getting a peerage

In her blockbuster memoirs, Strictly Ann, Ms Widdecombe says she knew she wouldn’t get a peerage ‘because I had received private intelligence from an unimpeachable source that Cameron had set his face against it’.

Ms Widdecombe claims that Tory peer Lord Strathclyde ‘said in front of others it was because of hunting,’ though she observes: ‘I cannot believe Cameron is that petty or so much in the grip of the squirearchy.’

Ms Widdecombe says she opposed ‘big-headed’ Mr Cameron becoming Tory leader because of his inexperience, claiming it was ‘madness’ to give him the job.

She says the party became ‘image obsessed’ under his command.

 

Former Prisons Minister Ms Widdecombe also uses the book to reopen her feud with her former boss, Michael Howard, whom she once famously described as having ‘something of the night’ about him.

On the hunt: Ann Widdecombe said she struggled to believe that David Cameron would be as petty as to deny her of a peerage

On the hunt: Ann Widdecombe said she struggled to believe that David Cameron would be as petty as to deny her of a peerage

Ms Widdecombe gives the first full account of her explosive fallout with the former Home Secretary over his sacking of jails boss Derek Lewis after a series of prison escapes.

Nearly 20 years after the event, she offers a fresh, devastating critique of Howard’s character.

At various points, she calls him ‘gloating’, ‘vindictive’, ‘gratuitously vengeful’, ‘nasty’, ‘autocratic’ and ‘bullying’.

She says he lacks ‘humanity’ and he was ‘given to kicking men when they were down’.

She reveals Howard begged former Prime Minister John Major to order her not to wreck Howard’s Tory leadership bid in 2001 – but Major refused.  

Instead, Ms Widdecombe writes:  ‘I saw him smile slightly as he said, “I will tell Michael you are of fixed purpose,” ’ she writes.

Astonishingly, Ms Widdecombe says Sir John went further and told her he had rebuked Howard over anonymous briefings which tried to smear her by falsely claiming she was ‘in love’ with Lewis.

Sir John said the briefings were ‘a disgrace’– and had told Howard so.

Describing her battle with Mr Howard as ‘mortal combat’, Ms Widdecombe says that when her attack killed off his first leadership bid she sent a  triumphant message to Mr Lewis: ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.’

John Redwood
Iain Duncan Smith

Widdecombe's tagets: The Tory grandee said fellow politicians John Redwood (left) undermined her with silly games and Iain Duncan Smith (right) lacks charisma

Francis Maude
Michael Portillo

Straight shooter: Ann Widdecombe gives the inside story on her dealings with Frances Maude (left) and Michael Portillo (right) who she calls 'arrogant'

In one of the most sustained political attacks by one senior Tory on another, Ms Widdecombe says of Mr Howard, who did become Tory leader in 2003: ‘He could have been a political giant had he only learned to distinguish between toughness and bullying and decisiveness and autocracy, if he had known when to stop delivering punishment, if his smile did not remind me  of the face of the proverbial tiger, and if he had some humanity.

‘I would trust him with anything except people. I would fight alongside him in the jungle...but if the battle went wrong he would look for someone to court martial – or just shoot.’

Nor does Ms Widdecombe pull her punches in describing other Tory foes. She suggests ‘arrogant’ Michael Portillo could have been ‘jealous of her’; lambasts Portillo’s ‘henchman’ Francis Maude, said Iain Duncan Smith ‘lacks charisma’ and John Redwood undermined her with ‘silly games’.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Anne Widdicombe is a fantastic politician. I did not always agree with a lot of her views but could tell she had deep convictions unlike Cameron, Blair etc

Click to rate     Rating   445

She has always been inclined to tell it as it is, why stop now?. Spot on I would think.

Click to rate     Rating   450

I like Ann! She's eccentric, a bit batty and I don't particularly agree with some of her opinions however she comes across as a genuinely good hearted lady with good morals and best intentions, albeit a bit naive sometimes with reality!

Click to rate     Rating   365

What have you done to deserve a peerage Anne.

Click to rate     Rating   178

upset because you were not kept on the gravy train albatross Doncaster

Click to rate     Rating   161

Ouch! Sour grapes?

Click to rate     Rating   192

Ms Widdecombe says she opposed ¿big-headed¿ Mr Cameron becoming Tory leader because of his inexperience, claiming it was ¿madness¿ to give him the job********************************************************** Well Ann he has certainly proved you correct!!!!!.

Click to rate     Rating   439

She seems to be a sad bitter loser venting her bitterness.

Click to rate     Rating   216

I really like this Lady, wish there were more like her around.

Click to rate     Rating   364

Fox hunting is an old English tradition... and you cannot have a wimp.. stop it...... possibly 1 out of 10 homes get invaded by foxes.

Click to rate     Rating   231
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