Priti Patel arrived at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Photo: Hannah Mackay/Reuters
Lunch with Priti Patel sold for £1,700 at Tory mass dinner as former home secretary butchers party leadership to sideline members.
Activists and donors shelled out almost £10,000 for a dozen items in a fundraising auction, with lots containing memorabilia donated by Boris Johnson.
The Conservative Democratic Organization (CDO) event attracted more than 200 guests, including former Ministers Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sir Conor Burns.
A mass organization was created. to represent the party's right after Mr Johnson was ousted by Tory MPs last summer.
Dame Priti said the group had since helped stem the exodus of disillusioned activists and would campaign for a “much more conservative” leadership
“All of you who know me well know that at heart I am first and foremost a grassroots activist,” she said at a formal dinner in Manchester.
“I'm one of those people who likes to be on the doorstep, and I really think that many of my colleagues should go out and be on the doorstep a lot more.
“We wouldn't be elected without you, our members, because that you are the heart and soul of our party, and I think it's time that our party starts to recognize that at the national level.”
“I believe that a closer relationship between party leadership and members… is something that should not be feared, because it is the key to success.”
Dame Preeti directed her criticism at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), saying activists were “fed up” and that it “doesn't represent our interests”.
She said the party needed to become “more democratic” giving members a say in politics and allowing them to choose parliamentary candidates as well as elect a chairman.
“We are at a crossroads now,” she said. . “This means showing CCHQ and our party leadership that Conservative values matter.”
Her remarks came before an auction dinner during which a dozen lots were sold to members to raise money for the community organization
Two bottles of champagne signed by Mr Johnson, the former prime minister, went for a total of £900, and a “Boris bag” was worth a further £400.
Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, donated his copy of the Brexit agreement signed by the former prime minister, which fetched £1,000.
Dinner with Dame Priti was the best-selling item at £1,700. and afternoon tea at The Ritz with Jenkins' lady Andrea fetched £800.
Sir Jacob, the former business secretary, donated a 2001 cricket bat signed by that year's England team and himself, which was sold at auction for £400.
Meanwhile, a copy of Nadine Dorries's forthcoming book on Johnson's downfall, to be signed by both her and the former prime minister, sold for £600.
One campaigner paid £1,300 to play golf with Lord's. Cruddas, Tory donor and CDO founder, on the world-famous Wentworth course.
Nigel Farage, the former Brexit Party leader turned TV presenter, attended the dinner and was treated to one of the biggest receptions. pm.
The meeting was overcrowded, despite the small number of visitors on the opening day of the conference. , will raise alarm bells in No 10.
It was further evidence that tax-cutting Tory MPs are preparing to put enormous pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to change course well before the election. .
Dame Preeti is a popular figure among the wider population and is seen as a possible future leader if the Conservatives lose to Labor next year.