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Analysis

5 things we can say about Conservative MPs today

by Nick Kent | 09.06.2017

It is not easy when a party is in shock – as Conservative are today – to predict how its MPs will behave in the new parliament. But there are five things we can say.

First, the hand of the Tory Remainers has been strengthened and that of the hard Brexiters has been weakened. May asked for a mandate for a hard Brexit and she didn’t get it. Staying in the single market is no longer unthinkable.

Second, the parliamentary party still has a majority of Remain MPs. What difference this will make to the debate about Brexit is unclear as a significant number of MPs endorsed either the Remain or Leave camp reluctantly last year and their view may have changed.

Third, many will be angry with May, and even more so with her advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. May’s authority has taken a terrible pounding because she was supposed to be the ultimate “safe pair of hands” and she dropped the ball. Talented ministers like Gavin Barwell, Jane Ellison and Ben Gummer have lost their seats alongside popular backbenchers like Neil Carmichael and Ben Howlett. Their friends will be angry and upset on their behalf.

Fourth, the Cameroons are back. George Osborne has a new platform at the Evening Standard and all the evidence is he is going to use it. Dissenting sacked ex-ministers like Anna Soubry and Eddie Vaizey have already spoken out. May will have to accommodate some of her former enemies in this part of the party if she is to hang on.

Fifth, there has been more turnover in the party’s MPs than the raw figures suggest. There were 329 Tory MPs when the election was called, 12 chose to retire and 32 lost their seats. The replacements for the 12 retirees were all elected and in addition the Tories gained 20 seats, 12 of them in Scotland from the SNP. The churn of MPs always creates turbulence as the new MPs find their feet and the whips try to bring them in line. The new Scottish MPs will be more influential as they are the one success in an otherwise disastrous election.

As we embark on yet another period of political instability, with Brexit at the centre of it, no one can be sure which way Conservative MPs will jump. Will they ditch May for a Brexiter like Boris Johnson or a Remainer like Amber Rudd? Will they accept May continuing at the head of a minority government until the Brexit negotiations are completed in 2019? Or will they split amongst themselves, voting in different ways with MPs of other parties on Brexit?

The aftershocks from the political earthquake of the 2016 referendum continue to shake the Tories. There may be more casualties yet.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

Categories: General Election 2017

2 Responses to “5 things we can say about Conservative MPs today”

  • May is now severely damaged goods. She has entered into an unholy alliance with paramilitaries who consort with terrorists. In view of the vitriol directed at Corbyn, who was falsely accused of consorting with terrorists, the irony of this desperate move by May will not be lost on the public at large. Cameron dug the hole and since then May has continued digging herself deeper into the hole. I cannot see this alliance lasting for too long, nor can I see any happy outcome for May and her cronies. It may well be that July or August will now be the end of May.

  • Did John Major not have an alliance with the Unionists? Can Corbyn persuade Sin Fein to take up their parliamentary seats? Are all the new Scottish Conservatives pro Europe? And why doesn’t anyone ever suggest the Scottish Conservative leader as a possible leader of the conservative party- surely she has done the best here?