The Foreign Secretary narrowly avoided a “Portillo Moment” as his majority in the “blue wall” seat was slashed from 23,298 to just 2,743 in the 2019 election, as the Liberal Democrats resurged in his Esher and Walton constituency
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Under-fire Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is advertising for a full-time ‘campaigns assistant’ as he battles to save both his job and his Commons seat.
Mr Raab narrowly avoided a “Portillo Moment” as his majority in the “blue wall” seat was slashed from 23,298 to just 2,743 in the 2019 election, as the Liberal Democrats resurged in his Esher and Walton constituency.
Polling suggests Mr Raab’s enthusiastic support for Brexit has hurt him in the leafy, prosperous Surrey area – which has elected Conservatives for more than 100 years.
The Lib Dems have targeted the seat for campaigning in a bid to repeat their success in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, another Tory ‘blue wall’ seat that was toppled over locals’ opposition to HS2 and dislike for Boris Johnson.
Local sources suggest the Foreign Secretary’s response to the Afghanistan crisis has “not gone down well with local voters at all.”
Lib Dem MP Sarah Only, who campaigned in the constituency this weekend, said: “It has been a gut-wrenching fortnight trying to help constituents of mine stuck in Afghanistan and desperate to escape the Taliban.
” Dominic Raab must resign for failing to act when he had the chance. He stayed on holiday instead of picking up the phone to save the lives of those in great danger.
“He has taken his Blue Wall seat for granted. No amount of money flooding in will change that. At the next election it will be a two horse race in Esher and Walton, and only the Liberal Democrats can beat Dominic Raab.”
The advertisement for a full time campaign staff member in his constituency office comes just weeks after it was revealed Mr Raab had accepted £25,000 in donations to his local party from a former Russian banker.
The donation, from ex-Russian Depositary Bank chief Dmitry Leus, was handed to Esher and Walton Conservatives to pay for campaigning costs.
The job advert, which closes on Tuesday, calls for “enthusiastic and ambitious” applicants.
The Foreign Secretary, who reportedly refused to return from holiday despite the fall of Kabul, also demands his new staffer be “flexible.”
The ad reads: “Political and campaigning priorities can change quickly, so working hours will of necessity be varied and flexible.
“This is a “rolling-up-the-sleeves”, do whatever needs to be done, frontline campaigning role.”
The successful candidate will be required to recruit volunteers, arrange a programme of “incumbency activities” for Mr Raab and coordinate a “comprehensive fundraising programme”.
A Tory source hit back, saying it was “a bit rich” for Ms Olney to “complain about someone else hiring campaign staff”, because she had been previously accused of breaking campaign spending rules.
Ms Olney was interviewed under caution over claims she broke spending rules in the 2016 Richmond By-Election.
Ms Olney at the time strongly denied she or her campaign team set out to break any rules.
And the CPS ruled it would not be in the public interest to charge her, “as there was no evidence to suggest a dishonest [intention], albeit there were discrepancies with the return submitted which is a criminal offence.”