Just how is Brexit impacting on the Tory party? March 16, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Here are three areas that give us an indication of the answer to that question. Firstly this outline of the divisions in the Tory party in advance of Brexit where those taking various positions were lined up.
Consider how almost all of those on the Remain side have swung in behind May.
This is revealing:
Given the fact May only has a working majority of 17, and that several dozen Tory MPs have very strong reservations about her “hard” Brexit approach, getting the bill through the Commons without a defeat represents a considerable triumph for the whips.
MPs voted down the amendment on EU nationals’ rights by 335 to 287, a majority of 48, with peers later accepting the decision by 274 to 135. The second amendment on whether to hold a meaningful final vote on any deal after the conclusion of Brexit talks was voted down by 331 to 286, a majority of 45, in the Commons.
How many Tories voted against? On the first:
A total of 287 MPs voted against – 210 Labour MPs, 54 from SNP, 9 Liberal Democrats, 3 from the SDLP, 3 from Plaid Cymru, 2 from the UUP, 3 independent MPs, the 1 Green Party MP and just 2 Conservative rebels – Tania Mathias and Alex Chalk.
And on the second?
Of the 286 MPs who voted against 213 were from Labour, 54 SNP, 9 Lib Dems, 3 SDLP, 3 Plaid Cymru MPs. 3 independents, the sole Green MP – but not a single Tory rebel.
What is the political import of this? No customs union. No single market. The hardest of hard Brexits with immigration on top. What evidence was there of significant dissent in the Tories, of emerging splits? None.
Finally let’s consider the polls. The Tories in the latest polls are 19 points ahead of Labour. Think about that. Even were a split to manifest – and let’s be honest there’s no evidence of same the Tories could lose, five, ten, even fifteen per cent and be ahead of the LP. Of course it wouldn’t work quite like that in real terms. A significant split would probably energise the LP to some degree. But… where is the material base for any such split. Or put it another way, why would you or I as Tory MPs even if we were deeply dubious of Brexit do anything to rock the boat at this stage?
If it works – as May suggests, then it will work. If it doesn’t May will be replaced with someone else. And let’s keep in mind one other point made in a piece by Polly Toynbee. I don’t like Toynbee’s stuff. I think it’s far too handwringing, too liberal, too satisfied with its rather middle class centre leftism, but here’s something she writes that I think is correct:
The “framers”, as usual, will be the Mail, the Sun, Express and Telegraph, pouncing on any compromise, blaming foreigners who, not unreasonably, say a Brexit deal must be worse than Britain staying in.
Monday’s Daily Mail, ahead of the Lords’ reprised debate, issued a typically thuggish threat across its front page: “Cover-up over ‘dodgy’ payouts to peers.” Vote the wrong way, and we’ll dig out your attendance expenses. That’s how it will be every step of the way with these true “enemies of the people”. Theresa May, who apparently never knowingly opposes the will of the Mail, will surely give way every time. Indeed, it might save a lot of time if she simply asked Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch what, if any, compromises they will stomach to get a deal, and do what they say.
All of these elements combine to keep people on the straight and narrow.
That’s the reality. At this point and for some time to come there is no evidence of disarray in the ranks of the Tories. Of course further down the line… well, things may change, but I suspect they’ll hang together for fear of hanging apart.