It may seem innocuous enough but a speech at a party by pro-Brexit housing minister Dominic Raab is being interpreted by some as a key event which may help determine the fate of beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Huffington Post’s respected deputy political editor, Owen Bennett, has identified a speech next month by Raab as an opportunity he may be taking to set out his stall as a possible future leader - or key Cabinet member - should May be ousted.
Bennett lists a series of summer parties organised or attended by key Tory MPs who, he says, will view the events not as a chance to relax but to recruit supporters for a change of leadership - and possibly their own elevation.
In addition to upcoming parties to be attended by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, disgraced former Cabinet member Pritti Patel, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and respected Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, there is an event at which Dominic Raab will be speaking next month.
Bennett writes: “Another MP set to deliver a drinks party speech is Housing Minister Dominic Raab.
“The Esher and Walton MP sits in the sweet spot when it comes to what Tories are looking for in a replacement for Theresa May: he has ministerial experience but is not regarded as one of the ‘old guard’.
“It will be worth seeing whether his speech to the Freer think-tank on Monday July 16 sticks to his housing brief, is a general ‘up at em’ speech for activists or sees him deliver a broader address setting out his vision for the country.”
This week ITN political editor Robert Peston has blogged that several pro-Brexit MPs are so exasperated by May’s hard-to-define position over exiting the EU that they feel it may be time to replace her, despite upcoming negotiation deadlines.