Welsh Secretary an ‘unreliable chameleon’ and Alun Cairns a ‘selfish careerist’ say Tory colleagues after Truss u-turn
Both the Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland and Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns have been criticised by their own colleagues after jumping ship from supporting Rishi Sunak to his rival Liz Truss.
With Liz Truss now heavily favoured to win, South Swindon MP Robert Buckland announced on Friday that he had withdrawn support from Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership campaign. He was followed on Monday by one of his predecessors in the role, Alun Cairns.
A serving Conservative councillor from Robert Buckland’s shire of Wiltshire criticised him over the move, saying that he was an “unreliable chameleon”.
Councillor Jonathan Seed said: “I know from personal experience that Robert puts his personal ambition before principles.
“Can he not see that commitment, even to a loser, is better than crawling mid-campaign to a winner? Why would a PM give a job to such an unreliable chameleon?”
Alun Cairns was also slammed over his late defection, with a a senior Welsh Conservative source telling the Guido Fawkes website that he was a “selfish careerist”.
“It’s clear to everybody what’s happened here,” they said. “Alun has seen which way the wind is blowing and flip-flopped.
“The guff about the Union is just a poorly constructed smoke screen for what is ultimately a selfish, careerist leap for the bandwagon.”
Alun Cairns said on Monday that he believes the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is the best candidate to secure the Union of the four UK nations.
He argued that the Union would be more likely to break up under Mr Sunak, a former chancellor, compared to his opponent and her “positive ambition for our country”.
Ms Truss has adopted a more abrasive approach to the first ministers of the devolved administrations during the campaign to succeed Boris Johnson in No 10.
She has described Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” who is “best ignored” and called Wales’s Mark Drakeford a “low energy version of Jeremy Corbyn”.
Writing in The Mail+, Mr Cairns said: “At the outset of the campaign, I met Rishi Sunak to discuss the future of the Union and was content with his responses. I chose to support him.
“However, as the campaign has developed, the risks to our Union have become more apparent. There is a need to break out of the current orthodoxy. The future of our Union depends on it.
“For this reason, I have concluded that with the positive ambition for our country and imagination she has shown, alongside her strong track record as a reformer, Liz Truss is best placed to secure our Union.”
Robert Buckland, who was appointed Welsh Secretary when Simon Hart resigned last month, became the first cabinet member to switch from endorsing one of the final two candidates to the other on Friday.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “Liz understands the need to make supply-side reforms, unlocking the private sector that powers our economic growth through investment and providing high-skilled jobs, such as the ones I saw at Airbus in North Wales on my visit with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on Thursday.”
He also hinted that it may be time for Rishi Sunak to concede so that they did not allow “what has been an overall positive contest for our party slide into more blue-on-blue as the weeks roll on”.
“It is time for positive politics, time to come together, and time for Liz to lead.”
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