JONNY Bucknell again, who by the way is still saying out loud that he’s only ’51 percent Conservative (and 49 percent Labour)’ despite being at the Tory party conference here in Manchester. Last night, Camden’s most eccentric councillor could be found buttonholing Jacob Rees-Mogg, demanding assurances that he was not undermining the party by lining up a run for the leadership. Of course not, JRM told him several times, smiling as if the thought had never crossed his mind – and with a curious brigade of young party members – the so-called Moggmomentum – grouped all around him, demanding selfies.
Cllr Bucknell had resolved to confront him after Rees-Mogg had spoken at Open Europe’s Beers Of The World reception – one of the busier events here, there seemed to be a neverending table of free booze laid on by Wetherspoons. The trigger word used by the North East Somerset MP had been ‘remoaner’, which Bucknell insists insults a large share of the membership. The councillor, who departs the Town Hall next May after being deselected by his Conservative colleagues, came away from the exchange pleased with himself, saying he had now nailed Rees-Mogg, on the record, denying any leadership ambitions and that he could hardly row back on that now.