Cameron 'rips up' Queen's Speech as Boris Johnson's star rises
HS2 and Lords reforms are postponed – and the PM is even ready to shelve the gay marriage plans he fought for
AFTER SUFFERING crushing losses in Thursday's local elections, David Cameron has gone back to the drawing board, revising the Queen's Speech at the last minute as his own party urges him to learn lessons from London's re-elected mayor, Boris Johnson.
According to The Independent on Sunday, "senior figures" within the Conservatives are calling on the PM to remove George Osborne from his role as chief electoral strategist and replace him with Johnson's campaign manager, Lynton Crosby.
An unnamed Tory minister told the paper: "If we want to win next time, we want Lynton Crosby. Lynton is a first class campaigner and, to be blunt, we missed that in 2010." (Osborne was also in charge of strategy for the 2010 general election.)
Cameron is said to be responding immediately to his party's drubbing by tweaking Wednesday's Queen's Speech in a highly unusual last-minute revision. The Sun quotes a "Whitehall source" as saying: "He is going through the speech line by line."
The source added: "Boris has made David see the error of his ways." The paper also notes that bookies last night "slashed the odds of Boris becoming the next PM to 3-1".
The Sunday Telegraph dubs the speech Cameron's "battle plan" and predicts it will include measures to "make firing underperforming employees easier", "extend flexible working to … overcome Tory unpopularity among women" and "clamp down on crime with a new 'British FBI'".
The paper also predicts that plans to set a minimum level for foreign spending, to build a new high speed rail line from London to Birmingham (HS2) and to create US-style private universities – all unpopular with backbenchers – will be delayed.
Looking further ahead than this week's Queen's Speech, The Sunday Times says Cameron has decided to shelve plans to legalise gay marriage and to reform the House of Lords – moves which will be deeply unpopular with his Lib Dem coalition partners.
Meanwhile, troublemaking backbench MP Nadine Dorries, who earlier dubbed Cameron and Osborne "two posh boys who don't know the price of a pint of milk", today suggested in an article for the Mail on Sunday that the PM could face a leadership challenge.
She pointed out that the signatures of 46 Tory MPs are needed to trigger a no confidence vote and added: "I would guess those signatures are already coming in and will reach 46 by Christmas."
The PM visited Johnson hours after his London victory, hoping perhaps that some of the re-elected mayor's sparkle might rub off on him. According to the Telegraph, though, Johnson had a joke at Cameron's expense as he celebrated his victory, telling supporters at a post-election party: "We survived the rain, the BBC, the budget and the endorsement of David Cameron." ·