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Monday, November 30, 2020

The PM did not lose the vote, but many of his MPs appear to be losing faith in him

Boris Johnson did not lose the vote, but many of his own MPs appear to be losing faith in him.

Downing Street’s efforts to neuter the rebellion by offering scientific briefings to backbenchers in recent days appears to have had limited effect.

The final number of Conservative MPs to vote against the government was 32, a higher number than had been expected.

But even that was not a true reflection of the level of antipathy felt by many Conservatives MPs towards the government’s lockdown proposals. The vote itself may have been binary, but the debate was far from black and white.

By no means did all the Tory MPs who expressed concerns with aspects of the new lockdown rules during the debate vote against the proposals when it came to it. Some made clear they would give the benefit of the doubt this time, but not without caveats.

Former minister Nusrat Ghani said she would reluctantly vote in favour of the legislation, but warned she was putting the government “on 28 days notice”.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May lambasted the government over the way scientific data had been presented, and the decision to make religious services illegal. She did not rebel, but her abstention nonetheless represents a major rebuke to her successor..

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Boris Johnson was seen walking out of the House of Commons as Theresa May launched a blistering attack on the government’s handling of the data.

Labour’s backing for the measures meant that a rebellion large enough to defeat the government was never a realistic possibility, but the prime minister will be worried about who did choose to take a stand.

Overall this was not a tantrum by serial trouble-makers, it was a rebellion of some of the most senior and influential conservatives not on the government pay-roll.

The Chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady, his vice chair Sir Charles Walker, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith and former Chief Whip Mark Harper are notable on the list of those who voted against.

Alongside MPs from the Brexiteer libertarian wing of the party, like former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey, Peter Bone and John Redwood were a number of former ministers normally associated with what was once seen as the ‘remainer’ centrist side of the camp – Steve Brine Johnathon Djanogly, and Jackie Doyle-Price.

The make-up of this rebellion is not like any we have seen before.

Will there be consequences for the rebels? Earlier this afternoon a spokesman for Mr. Johnson made clear that was unlikely, pointing to the fact the Prime Minister “understands where his MPs are coming from” and has been open about the regrets he feels himself.

That is not a tone we normally hear from Downing Street.

This post courtesy of sky

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