Rebels getting away with it

Whatever happened to political party discipline?

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 8:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 9:30 am

With the exception of Stephen Hammond, who was sacked as a Tory Party vice-chairman, the other 10 Conservatives in last week’s hugely damaging anti-Brexit rebellion may be getting away with it scot-free. The rebellion led to a Government defeat in the Commons, which gravely weakened the Prime Minister in her Brexit negotiations with the Brussels Eurocrats. Government whips no doubt gave the miscreants a severe telling off – but other than that, there seems to be no other form of punishment. It is difficult to disagree with Tory back-bencher, Nadine Dorries, that they should all be formally reported to their local constituency parties, with a view to their being deselected at the next general election. MPs may deplore the whipping system, but they should remember that virtually every MP is elected not on his personal appeal but on the party he represents as a candidate. This makes them duty-bound to follow the official party line, whether they agree with it or not. In addition, this rebellion demonstrated that the rebels do not trust their leader. She had said Parliament would have the last say on this issue. But that was not good enough for the rebels, who wanted to see that in writing. If they don’t trust the Prime Minister, they should have the guts to call for a leadership election.

- Is Brexit Secretary David Davis, pictured, really as naive as was suggested by his remark that, in his job, you don’t need to be clever, just keep calm? This seemed a feeble comment from a man with a tough London East End upbringing, who is engaged in the most difficult negotiations a British Government has been involved in for generations.

But perhaps Davis is a master bluffer, hoping his remark will cause his Brussels ‘opponents’ to drop their guard. We must hope so.

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However, Davis is a far from spectacular performer in the House of Commons. He has been rebuked by he Speaker, John Bercow, for mumbling.

He needs to buck up his ideas at Westminster, even if he is playing cunning games with his Brussels counterparts – which some people, I am afraid, may doubt.