Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft takes a swipe at Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 October 2012

Lord Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft

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BILLIONAIRE Conservative Party backer Lord Ashcroft has taken a swipe at MP Grant Shapps over a hastily-cancelled meeting to "reprimand" the peer.

Writing on the Conservative Home website in his ‘Conference Diary’ last week, Lord Ashcroft, who in the past has funded the party to the tune of millions of pounds, criticised Mr Shapps’ electoral strategy.

He wrote: “Grant Shapps, our new Chairman asked to come and see me last week.

“I wondered what I might have done to upset him recently (I mean, apart from denouncing his poster, and criticising the party’s international aid policy, and questioning the reshuffle.

“Oh, and panning the strategy for attacking Ed Miliband, and pointing out that a third of 2010 Tories now say they might [vote] for someone else. I think that’s all). I prepared myself for a telling off.”

But he added: “Unfortunately urgent CCHQ business intervened and he had to cancel, so I am still waiting for my reprimand – if indeed a reprimand was what he had in store.”

Mr Shapps insisted he was not going to “reprimand” Lord Ashcroft.

Asked about the purpose of the meeting he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I just wanted to get together with him but it was scheduled for another location.

“We’re rescheduling for another occasion.”

Asked about the peer’s criticisms, Mr Shapps said he had not read them, but added: “I’ve seen him at Conference and he just told me he had blogged about it tongue-in-cheek.”

And, pressed over the decision to ring-fence the international aid budget, Mr Shapps said: “People are entitled to their opinion.”

He added: “I think we can be very proud of our aid record. The Conservative Party is a compassionate party.”

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