Chairman of the 1922 Committee survives bid to replace him by former minister

Tory grandee Sir Graham Brady has been re-elected as the powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs after defeating a challenge from a former minister regarded as No 10’s favoured candidate.

Sir Graham, who has held the post since 2010, confirmed his victory on Wednesday afternoon after the challenge from former government minister Heather Wheeler.

Heather Wheeler
Heather Wheeler challenged Sir Graham Brady (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

He thanked his colleagues for the “vote of confidence” after the secret ballot open to Tory MPs who are not on the Government payroll.

Downing Street has reportedly been unhappy with Sir Graham, an outspoken critic of lockdown restrictions who has voted against the Government a number of times.

Mrs Wheeler, former whip and junior minister at the Foreign Office, was widely regarded to be No 10’s preferred candidate for what is one of the most influential posts in Westminster.

Sir Graham, 54, said: “It is a privilege to have been re-elected as chairman of the 1922 Committee after 11 years serving the parliamentary Conservative Party, I am grateful to my colleagues for this vote of confidence.”

Often referred to as the “shop steward” of Tory MPs, it is up to the ‘22 chairman to tell the Conservative prime minister if they have lost the support of the backbenches.