The 187 Tory MPs, including six Cabinet Ministers, who voted against the Prime Minister’s motion to extend Article 50

Almost two thirds of the parliamentary Conservative Party opposed it, alongside the DUP and a handful of others.

Parliament has voted to extend Article 50. The ranks of the Ayes include the Prime Minister and much of her Cabinet, but by a considerable margin only a minority of the parliamentary Conservative Party.

Almost two-thirds of Tory MPs, alongside all ten Democratic Unionists and a smattering of Labour and Independent MPs, voted against extension.

So too did six Secretaries of State: Steve Barclay, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, and Gavin Williamson. Andrea Leadsom, who attends Cabinet in her role as Leader of the House, also voted against. Alun Cairns voted in both lobbies to register what is known as a ‘positive abstention’.

The full list is below. Not included are Peter Bone and Will Wragg, who served as tellers and bring the true total up to 189.

  • Nigel Adams
  • Adam Afriyie
  • Lucy Allan
  • David Amess
  • Stuart Andrew
  • Richard Bacon
  • Kemi Badenoch
  • Steve Baker
  • Harriet Baldwin
  • Stephen Barclay


  • John Baron
  • Henry Bellingham
  • Jake Berry
  • Bob Blackman
  • Crispin Blunt
  • Ben Bradley
  • Graham Brady
  • Suella Braverman
  • Jack Brereton
  • Andrew Bridgen


  • Fiona Bruce
  • Alex Burghart
  • Conor Burns
  • William Cash
  • Maria Caulfield
  • Rehman Chishti
  • Christopher Chope
  • Jo Churchill
  • Colin Clark
  • Simon Clarke


  • James Cleverly
  • Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
  • Damian Collins
  • Robert Courts
  • Tracey Crouch
  • Chris Davies
  • David TC Davies
  • Glyn Davies
  • Mims Davies
  • Philip Davies


  • Caroline Dinenage
  • Leo Docherty
  • Michelle Donelan
  • Nadine Dorries
  • Steve Double
  • Jackie Doyle-Price
  • James Duddridge
  • Iain Duncan Smith
  • Michael Ellis
  • Charlie Elphicke


  • George Eustice
  • Nigel Evans
  • David Evennett
  • Michael Fabricant
  • Michael Fallon
  • Kevin Foster
  • Liam Fox
  • Mark Francois
  • Marcus Fysh
  • Nusrat Ghani


  • John Glen
  • Zac Goldsmith
  • Helen Grant
  • James Gray
  • Chris Grayling
  • Chris Green
  • Andrew Griffiths
  • Kirstene Hair
  • Robert Halfon
  • Luke Hall


  • Mark Harper
  • Rebecca Harris
  • Trudy Harrison
  • Simon Hart
  • John Hayes
  • James Heappey
  • Chris Heaton-Harris
  • Philip Hollobone
  • Adam Holloway
  • Nigel Huddleston


  • Eddie Hughes
  • Ranil Jayawardena
  • Bernard Jenkin
  • Andrea Jenkyns
  • Robert Jenrick
  • Boris Johnson
  • Caroline Johnson
  • Gareth Johnson
  • David Jones
  • Marcus Jones


  • Daniel Kawczynski
  • Julian Knight
  • Greg Knight
  • Kwasi Kwarteng
  • John Lamont
  • Pauline Latham
  • Andrea Leadsom
  • Edward Leigh
  • Andrew Lewer
  • Julian Lewis


  • Ian Liddell-Grainger
  • Julia Lopez
  • Jack Lopresti
  • Jonathan Lord
  • Tim Loughton
  • Craig Mackinlay
  • Rachel Maclean
  • Anne Main
  • Alan Mak
  • Kit Malthouse


  • Scott Mann
  • Paul Maynard
  • Stephen McPartland
  • Esther McVey
  • Mark Menzies
  • Johnny Mercer
  • Huw Merriman
  • Stephen Metcalfe
  • Amanda Milling
  • Nigel Mills


  • Damien Moore
  • Penny Mordaunt
  • Anne Marie Morris
  • David Morris
  • James Morris
  • Wendy Morton
  • Sheryll Murray
  • Andrew Murrison
  • Jesse Norman
  • Neil O’Brien


  • Matthew Offord
  • Priti Patel
  • Owen Paterson
  • Mike Penning
  • Andrew Percy
  • Chris Philp
  • Christopher Pincher
  • Mark Pritchard
  • Tom Pursglove
  • Will Quince


  • Dominic Raab
  • John Redwood
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • Laurence Robertson
  • Mary Robinson
  • Andrew Rosindell
  • Douglas Ross
  • Lee Rowley
  • Paul Scully
  • Grant Shapps


  • Chris Skidmore
  • Chloe Smith
  • Henry Smith
  • Royston Smith
  • Mark Spencer
  • Andrew Stephenson
  • Bob Stewart
  • Iain Stewart
  • Graham Stuart
  • Julian Sturdy


  • Rishi Sunak
  • Desmond Swayne
  • Robert Syms
  • Derek Thomas
  • Ross Thomson
  • Maggie Throup
  • Kelly Tolhurst
  • Michael Tomlinson
  • Craig Tracey
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan


  • Elizabeth Truss
  • Tom Tugendhat
  • Shailesh Vara
  • Martin Vickers
  • Theresa Villiers
  • Ben Wallace
  • David Warburton
  • Matt Warman
  • Giles Watling
  • Helen Whately


  • Heather Wheeler
  • Craig Whittaker
  • John Whittingdale
  • Bill Wiggin
  • Gavin Williamson
  • Mike Wood
  • Nadhim Zahawi

The five Secretaries of State who supported the Green Amendment

As a free vote, this may give us the clearest picture of the divisions at the very top of the Party over how to approach Brexit.

Whilst several senior members of the Cabinet were amongst the 66 Conservative MPs who voted against ‘Malthouse II’, there were Secretaries of State on the other side of the question too.

As a free vote, this Amendment perhaps offers the purest insight into the divisions deepening at the very top of the Party about how best to proceed over Brexit. Excluding junior ministers, they are:

  • Alun Cairns (Welsh Office)
  • Jeremy Hunt (Foreign Office)
  • Sajid Javid (Home Office)
  • Penny Mordaunt (DfID)
  • Gavin Williamson (Defence)

Andrea Leadsom, who attends Cabinet in her role as Leader of the House, also supported it.

Greg Clark, David Gauke, David Lidington, Claire Perry and Amber Rudd are reported to have voted against the motion, with all other Cabinet members abstaining.

Iain Dale: Whatever happens with Brexit this month, May must go. And quickly.

Plus: What anti-Muslim prejudice? I know of a Tory branch that moved their meeting from a pub in an attempt to make a Muslim member feel more comfortable.

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Earlier this week, we were encouraged by Sayeeda Warsi to accept that the Conservative Party is “institutionally Islamophobic”. She offered no evidence, merely a series of allegations. And she did it all via Twitter or other media. She is demanding an inquiry into the subject.

I do not for one moment deny there are people in the Conservative Party who have displayed evidence of being anti-Muslim, racist or even (whisper it) anti-semitic. They exist in all parties, and they need to be weeded out.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but, whenever anyone has been found to be Islamophobic, the party has acted swiftly and immediately suspended them. That’s what happened this week when CCHQ was alerted to some loathsome comments on a little-known Facebook Group which claimed to be some sort of Jacob Rees-Mogg fan group. A complaint was made and 14 members were swiftly dealt with I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect a CCHQ boffin or two to be diverted to permanently monitor whether something untoward is being said by someone at any time on a pathetic Facebook page.

For the second time in a few months, I devoted an hour of my LBC radio show to asking Muslims to phone in if they had experienced any Islamophobia as members of the Conservative Party. For the second time, I didn’t get a single call from anyone alleging that sort of behaviour. Instead, I got calls from Muslim Conservatives who said how welcome they’d been made to feel. One of them said his local branch moved their monthly meetings from a pub to a local community centre because they wanted him to feel comfortable.

I happen to like Sayeeda Warsi. I think she’s done a lot of good for the Party on various issues over the years but, on this subject, I’d like to see her evidence, and weigh whethr it stacks up to anything that would be serious enough to warrant a full-scale inquiry. I see no evidence of “institutional Islamophobia” in the Conservative Party, and I know of no one at the top of the party who would put up with it.

And that’s where the Tories are different to the Labour Party. I don’t believe the Labour Party is “institutionally anti-semitic”, but I do believe there are people at the top of the Labour Party who, because of their hard-left ideology, tolerate it.

– – – – – – – – – –

This time next week, the die will have been cast. We should have a better idea whether we will leave the EU as planned, and as promised by Theresa May hundreds of times over, on 29 March.

I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you. As I write, there is no sign of any breakthrough in Brussels and I don’t believe enough of the ERGers will be bought off in time. The Meaningful Vote on Tuesday won’t be lost by 230, but the question is: will the majority be low enough for Theresa May to come to the conclusion that one final heave might just get her over the line in a third vote?

If it doesn’t, and Parliament then votes to extend Article 50, that’s when the fireworks could really start. I suspect the EU will reject a three month extension, on the basis that there’s no one to negotiate with after early April because of the European Parliamentary elections and the fact that the Commission has ended its term until a new one starts in July. It may come back and offer a two year extension, but this would enrage Brexiteers who would then rightly say that we wouldn’t actually leave until more than seven years after the initial vote.

I don’t see how the Prime Minister could accept a two-year delay. If she did, surely that would be the end of her. Mind you, we’ve said that before. One thing I can confidently predict, however, is that the rest of this month is going to determine what happens for the next ten years. Fasten your seatbelts.

– – – – – – – – – –

Whatever the outcome of what happens this month, surely it will then be time for May to depart the stage. And quickly.

If she doesn’t, we will inevitably return to a continuous diet of leadership speculation. She’s lost the confidence of all parts of the party over so many issues.

If we leave on the March 29 with No Deal, the country will need a leader who actually believes in Brexit and has a clear idea of what he or she wants it to become and how to achieve it.

But if Article 50 is extended, I do not think that the Minister can possibly, with a straight face, claim that she is the woman to lead those negotiations, having so spectacularly failed over the last two and a half years. If there’s just a technical extension for a few weeks to get the legislation through Parliament, I still believe that she should announce she’s going, and allow the Party to move on and elect a new leader.

Her only hope of staying on for longer is if she is able to get her deal through, and she can then tell us all that she achieved her mission  – even though no one at all will be satisfied. Even in those circumstances, I believe the country would be better off with a new leader and a fresh start.

– – – – – – – – – –

Talking of future leadership contestants, I wrote a piece on my blog recently headlined: “The Quiet Rise of Andrea Leadsom”. And what do you know? A few days later she only goes and tops this month’s ConservativeHome Cabinet Ministers Performance Poll. I may not be Mystic Meg, but I can tell when someone is doing a good job as, it seems, can the readers of this august website.

Leadsom climbs to the top spot in our Cabinet League Table

Javid almost doubles his rating after his decisive handling of Begum. Meanwhile Rudd, Gauke and Clark all fall. And Grayling plumbs new depths.

It’s that time again – the monthly Cabinet League Table. Who’s up and who’s down?

  • Leadsom leaps to the top spot. This must be one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the history of the League Table. In November, after the Prime Minister’s deal was released, Andrea Leadsom was down in 21st place, with a net rating of -16.3. At the end of December, she put on 50 points, helped by a battle with the ever-unpopular John Bercow, and was up to fifth place, with a net rating of +34.2. In our January survey she had climbed further, up to third place with a net rating of +43. This month she caps that by gaining a further 11.6 points to seize the top spot in the table, with a rating of +54.6. Iain Dale wrote last week about ‘the quiet rise of Andrea Leadsom’, and it certainly seems that her decision to stay in the Cabinet rather than resign has paid off, so far.
  • A great month for Javid. The Home Secretary might have reasonably expected a positive result this month, after his firm stance against Shamima Begum returning to the UK secured the backing of more than three quarters of party member respondents to our survey. He has more than recovered the ground he lost in January, and almost doubles his rating to a very healthy +49.8, rising from eighth to second place.
  • Truss’s rating climbs steadily. November: +15.8. December: +28.5. January: +35. And now February: +39.9. That is a very positive trend for any minister in these rankings, particularly in turbulent times, and her pronouncements on the ‘Corbyn-lite’ nature of Downing Street’s thinking is unlikely to hurt.
  • The Cabinet overall is still in a bad place. Fifteen ministers have ratings in negative territory, having failed to recover from the unpopularity of first Chequers and then the deal itself. The whole Cabinet’s net rating, which stood at almost +1000 a year ago now bumps along at -1.2, essentially a neutral score. That is a miserable verdict from a Party’s grassroots on its top Government team. As we’ve seen above, it’s not all just neutral – some people are doing well, and others badly, but there’s an increasing polarisation. The average rating of the top ten continues to rise while the average of the bottom ten continues to fall.
  • A rough month for anti-No-Dealers Gauke, Rudd and Clark. The three Cabinet ministers who forced the Prime Minister to change tack by pledging publicly to oppose No Deal at all costs recently have all suffered for doing so. David Gauke’s rating falls from -23.8 to -36.6. Amber Rudd’s declines from -35.9 to -48.3. Greg Clark sees his rating fall from -31.8 to -40.8. Having given in to them, the Prime Minister’s rating also slips, down to -40.8.
  • Grayling plumbs new depths. If the ministers above feel bad about their numbers, they can always console themselves that they aren’t Chris Grayling. The Transport Secretary has been jostling with Philip Hammond for the bottom spot in the table for some time now, but opens up a commanding lead as the most poorly rated member of the Cabinet, right down on -60.1. It’s one of the worst scores this League Table has ever recorded.
  • All eyes on Cox. Geoffrey Cox, having risen to prominence (in real life and in the League Table) since the Conservative Party Conference now finds himself taking centre stage in the latter phases of Brexit. He has consolidated his rating at a health +44.7 this month, but with all eyes on him in the coming weeks he has everything to play for. No pressure.

May walks a red tape tightrope on workers’ rights and regulations

In trying to find a way across, and to secure the votes she needs from Labour MPs, the Prime Minister risks unintended consequences.

For obvious reasons, discussion of the Prime Minister’s statement earlier this week focused on her decision to give Parliament votes on No Deal and potentially delaying Brexit.

But there were other elements of her speech that merit attention – particularly the part about “ensuring that leaving the EU will not lead to any lowering of standards in relation to workers’ rights, environmental protections or health and safety.”

This is a sticky area, with political pressure in three directions.

The Government is sensitive to charges by the Opposition that it intends to erode just such legislative standards – Labour mutter darkly about a “Tory Brexit” meaning exactly that. Vote Leave countered that very allegation during the referendum itself. This article in The Times, by Gisela Stuart and Andrea Leadsom, is a good example of the campaign’s clear answer:

‘Again and again Britain has gone further and faster than the rest of the EU in pushing for workplace rights, racial and gender equality and crackdowns on hate speech.

All of the EU legislation we have accepted since Tony Blair took us into the social chapter has been incorporated into UK law and will remain in place if we vote to leave. Any decision to simplify or change any of those laws would need voters’ consent. Our public holidays will also be protected and maternity and paternity leave will stay.’

At the same time, the EU is concerned – revealingly – that a newly-regained right to control our own laws might see the UK become more competitive than the bloc, either by abandoning existing rules or, more gradually, by refusing to adopt new ones. Brussels therefore seeks a way to somehow forbid regulatory variation in perpetuity – a hope which Eurosceptics suspect underlies the open-ended nature of the backstop.

And of course among Leavers, including many on the Government’s own backbenches, there is strong opposition to the idea of taking back control only to promise never to actually use it. The prospect of copying and pasting EU law into British law for all eternity is obviously unappealing – indeed it is a form of relationship with the EU that even the Remain campaign attacked back in 2016. Those seeking a more competitive UK through Brexit warn against promising to give up control of some of the levers by which it might be achieved.

By virtue of her nature as well as the Parliamentary arithmetic, the Prime Minister has sought to navigate a path between those three competing pressures. The 2017 manifesto, Nick Timothy-driven as it was, promised further legal protection over and above keeping existing EU-derived rights:

‘We will not only guarantee but enhance workers’ rights and protections… Workers’ rights conferred on British citizens from our membership of the EU will remain.’

The first element of that pledge was embodied by the Great Repeal Bill – which became the European Union (Withdrawal) Act. The legislation copied and pasted EU law into the UK statute book – a step near-universally accepted as necessary for basic legal continuity when Brexit occurs, thereby ensuring an independent UK would begin with the same workers’ rights and protections as it had during its EU membership.

That ought to have assuaged some of the more extreme conspiracy theories about a mass deletion of legal rights on Brexit Day itself. But the issue which Theresa May now seeks to address is the question of that ongoing “guarantee”. How can she ensure she is believed about preserving existing rights – particularly by Labour MPs whose votes she might yet need to pass a deal – while not alienating a mass of Leavers and free marketeers on her own benches by surrendering to the Brussels’ demands for permanent obedience to EU law (an ongoing common rulebook, to raise the ghosts of Chequers)?

Tuesday saw her attempt:

‘Taking back control cannot mean giving up our control of these standards, especially when UK governments of all parties have proudly pursued policies that exceed the minimums set by the EU – from Labour giving British workers more annual leave to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats giving all employees the right to request flexible working.

Not only would giving up control go against the spirit of the referendum result, it would also mean accepting new EU laws automatically, even if they were to reduce workers’ rights or change them in a way that was not right for us.

Instead, and in the interests of building support across the House, we are prepared to commit to giving Parliament a vote on whether it wishes to follow suit whenever the EU standards in areas such as workers’ rights and health and safety are judged to have been strengthened.

The Government will consult with businesses and trade Unions as it looks at new EU legislation and decides how the UK should respond.

We will legislate to give our commitments on both non-regression and future developments force in UK law.

And following further cross-party talks, we will shortly be bringing forward detailed proposals to ensure that as we leave the EU, we not only protect workers’ rights, but continue to enhance them.’

In short, the Prime Minister is walking a tightrope made of red tape. \

She is right to reject “giving up our control of these standards” by “accepting new EU laws automatically”. That she framed the prospect as a risk that the EU might “reduce workers’ rights” shows that she knows her target audience is red, not blue. So there would be no ‘fax democracy’, or permanent obedience to new EU law.

However, in a classically Mayish way, she went on to tout a new way to square the circle – “giving Parliament a vote on whether it wishes to follow suit whenever the EU standards in areas such as workers’ rights and health and safety are judged to have been strengthened”.

That could be a much bigger change to how our country works than it at first appears.

For a start, have ministers considered how often the EU legislates, and therefore potentially how often such votes might need to take place? It seems the decision on what counts as a ‘strengthening’ of EU law would fall to a joint committee of unions and business groups. At least one such body currently exists in BEIS to advise on red tape, but this would be a major increase in the importance of what is currently a backroom talking shop.

It could also in effect give the EU a pseudo-executive role in British legislation. The power to introduce EU law would simultaneously become a power to propose that law in the UK Parliament, at least for a vote on the principle. That might be time-consuming, or dull, but equally it isn’t impossible to imagine it might be used to help or hinder one side of British politics or another if the powers that be in Brussels and Strasbourg so desired. A Government’s agenda could be repeatedly disrupted, by accident or design, by the need for debates and votes on endless or awkwardly-timed proposals that don’t even originate in the Commons, still less from the executive.

The idea of guaranteeing all existing EU workplace regulations in perpetuity – by legislation, no less – is controversial in itself. It sacrifices flexibility in the economy, and therefore limits opportunities to grow, to respond to crises or adapt to new circumstances.

Introducing what is in effect a whole new constitutional innovation with little thought is even more short-sighted than that. The Prime Minister might need to sway some votes in the next few weeks, but afterwards we will all have to live with the rules she proposes, and their consequences. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act, an under-scrutinised but major change to our constitution, waved through for temporary political expedience, ought to serve as a cautionary tale.

Don’t blame the A list

It may have produced Anna Soubry – but it also gave us a mixed cross-section of Tories, including Conor Burns, Esther McVey, Priti Patel and Liz Truss.

What do Fiona Bruce, Conor Burns, Suella Braverman, Howard Flight, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Priti Patel and Liz Truss have in common?

Answer: all, according to ConservativeHome’s files, were members of David Cameron’s A-list – which legendarily contained only “the pseuds and poseurs of London’s chi-chi set”, in the immortal words of John Hayes.

This casts perspective on the claim that the A-list is responsible for taking a mass of people with no Tory record or beliefs at all and turning them into Conservative MPs – including this week’s three defectors.

The list was an eye-catching idea with which Cameron could be personally associated – and not a very good one.  It was scrapped after the 2010 election.  But it can’t credibly be blamed for the Group of Three.

Sarah Wollaston doesn’t seem to have been on it at all.  Heidi Allen entered the Commons in 2015, long after the A-list’s abolition.  So only one out of the three defectors had anything to do with it.

Maybe Open Primaries are to blame instead?  Except that the Conservative Party only held two proper, full, postal ballot open primaries before the 2010 election.

One of them, to be sure, produced Wollaston.  The other gave us the impeccably orthodox Caroline Dinenage, who has caused neither the leadership nor the membership any trouble whatsover, and is currently a Minister of State at the Department of Health.

Or is the problem selecting MPs who have no sustained history of Party membership?  That’s nearer the mark – fitting Allen and Wollaston like a glove.

However, Soubry’s engagement with the Party stretches back for 40 years or so.  (And please note: she denies ever having joined the SDP, though she is certainly making up for it now.)

And in any event, there are plenty of relatively recent arrivals whose politics is a very long way from being pink.  We present to you, by way of example, Steve Baker, who was fairly new to party politics when selected in 2010.

No, the only rule of defections is that there is no rule: blame the A-list if you like; complain about Open Primaries; look for a lack of long Party experience as a common factor.

But you might just as usefully ask some questions.  Is the defector’s day on the front bench over?  Is his or her career frustrated? Is she a soloist?  Is his constituency markedly pro-Remain? The answers are likely to be a more reliable guide.

A cold climate for younger voters

Trashing last Friday’s event is doubtless fun for Conservative commentators, but not the right course at all for the Conservative Party.

If you believe that human activity is the main driver of climate change, this Government has policies for you.  Its framework was set by the Climate Change Act of 2008 – introduced by the last Labour Government, supported by the Conservatives and sustained by the Coalition – which set a greenhouse gas reduction target.  It was to reduce emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.  You might reply that what matters is reducing emissions, not setting targets, let alone setting them law.  But successive Governments have done so: emissions in the UK have fallen by 42 per cent since 1990 – faster than those of any other G7 nation.

This record presumably doesn’t satisfy the pupils who took a day off school on Friday – mostly unauthorised – to demand that the Government declare a ‘climate emergency”.  It doesn’t satisfy some 50 Conservative MPs, either.  They want that emissions target for 2050 to be zero.  The Parliamentarian who organised a letter that they signed was Simon Clarke.  He will be known to readers of this site as one of our most committed pro-Brexit writers.

Elsewhere, Michael Gove has picked up the green ball and run with it.  He has upped the pace of activity at the Environment Department.  There are bans galore: on microbeads and ivory, on new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 (assuming successor governments don’t back off), on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds (at least, if Gove has his way).  Elsewhere, he is setting up a plastic bottle deposit return scheme, has slapped up CCTV in slaughterhouses, and ensured that businesses will pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.

It is worth setting all this out in the context of the Government’s miserabalist response to the Youth Strike 4 Climate event.  Theresa May said that “disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for”.  Andrea Leadsom added that: “it’s truancy, not a strike”.  Ministers and Downing Street are overwhelmed by Brexit and most of them don’t seem to have thought their reactions through.

Yes, yes: we know.  Pupils should indeed be at school on weekdays.  The planners of the march doubtless selected Friday as the day most likely to swell numbers: choose the day before Saturday, and so make the weekend longer.  If one wants to get an accurate measure of how much young people care about the climate, try holding a march over a weekend and see how many turn up.  As it is, only 15,000 turned out of some three million secondary school children.  You will point out that there is limited utility in engaging with people who chant “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” or “f**k Theresa May”, whatever their age may be.

You will add that those who really care about the environment don’t tear up grass, and that swigging champagne in public is a novel form of environmental protest (though also not unusual, you will concede, among young people of all political persuasions, including those who pass through the Bullingdon Club).  All true enough – and beside the point.  It is one thing for a right-of-centre website to say all this; quite another for a right-of-centre party to do so.

The Conservative Party has a problem attracting younger voters.  You may not care for the response to the march of Claire Perry – who is the Government’s lead minister on Climate Change, operating out of the Business Department rather than Gove’s – but her psychology was sound: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too,” she said.  This was at least a way of beginning to gain a hearing among the mass of young people who neither went on the march nor vote Conservative.  (Some will doubtless disagree with this take, but the most vociferous of these are likely to have right-of-centre views in any event.)

Only once one has gained a hearing can one start a dialogue.  How many younger voters know about the emissions reduction record with which we opened this piece?  If they really want zero emissions by 2050, are they conscious of the potential trade-offs?  If they wish to get there now, what would that mean to the public services who rely on present patterns of energy consumption, or for poorer peoples’ electricity bills, or for younger peoples’ jobs and opportunities?

Even were voters prepared to pay this price, what about emissions in other countries – which produce the overwhelming majority of emissions?  How can we weigh the balance of the human activity in relation to climate change against that of other factors, such as the activity of the sun?  Above all – and getting down to brass tacks – what is each person doing to reduce his or her own emissions footprint?  That draws the conversation to a very conservative theme indeed: personal responsibility.

Some will doubtless claim that there is name for approaching the subject in this way: appeasement.  If this is so, then any attempt by any politician to engage with a view other than his own is appeasement.  Another name is more accurate: politics.  Political engagement by a political party means persuading those who don’t already support it to do so.  Oh, and as for “f**k Theresa May”: don’t we now hear this message each day, in effect, from rather a large slice of Conservative MPs?

David Burrowes and Nickie Aiken: Coming to you soon. The family hubs revolution.

This week’s National Family Hubs Fair and Conference brought together around 50 organisations that are committed to supporting families.

David Burrowes is Executive Director of the Manifesto to Strengthen Families and was MP for Enfield Southgate from 2005-2017. Cllr Nickie Aiken is the Leader of Westminster City Council.

This week in Westminster whilst MPs attention was on Brexit, a revolution began. It took place within the eight minute distance it takes to get to the division lobby in the Commons. But it was not about votes or Parliamentary plots – and certainly not about Brexit. It was the first National Family Hubs Fair and Conference. That does not sound too revolutionary, but these family hubs are transforming the lives of children and parents up and down the country, and are carrying the torch for the Government for when its attention returns to the domestic policy agenda.

The National Family Hubs Fair and Conference brought together around 50 organisations and family hub areas who are committed to supporting families. It was initiated by the Manifesto to Strengthen Families (led by Fiona Bruce and Lord Farmer in 2017 and signed by 60 MPs and several peers), which had a key recommendation: that the Government “encourage every Local Authority to work with voluntary and private sector partners to deliver Family Hubs, local ‘one stop shops’ offering families with children and young people, aged 0-19, early help to overcome difficulties and build stronger relationships…and put in place a transformation fund and national task force to encourage Local Authorities to move towards this model”.

Westminster Council did not need any encouragement, because it has been on the journey of service integration for many years. An integrated leadership team, consisting of statutory and voluntary organisations, oversees the development and work of the hub, and is committed to developing a shared approach through sharing of information, assessments, meeting processes and, importantly, their resources.

The significant funding challenges for children and family services mean that councils have to integrate, but in Westminster we have done it to improve and expand the reach of our services. We have shifted to a Family Hub model as a natural evolution from Sure Start Children’s Centres, realising that parents of older children (five plus) need and were asking for the same integrated support. We have launched the Bessborough Family hub as one of three hubs, supporting families with children across the age spectrum from under one to 19. As well as a physical building, the hubs will be a network of providers working across a given area.

All this sounds like management changes rather than a revolution but what we heard at our conference is that in Westminster and across the country in places like Chelmsford, the Isle of Wight and Rochdale, family hubs are tackling at source the biggest social problem which is relationship and family breakdown.

A lack of readily accessible early support for families with children aged from between under one to 19 who experience difficulties in their parenting and couple relationships and in their mental health threatens to undermine efforts to narrow the education attainment gap. It also fuels crises in social care services which are faced with unremittingly high numbers of children who are ‘in need’, on child protection plans, and coming into care.

Over half of referrals to children’s services come from the police, schools and health services, for whom the child or family’s presenting need was significant enough to require more help than they could offer. Yet without additional help many of these families will, sooner or later, require costly social services interventions.

The family hubs developing across the UK are key to tackling the “burning injustices” which the Prime Minister has identified as her mission – identifying families with complex needs as early as possible, no matter which service they come into contact with; preventing family breakdown; preventing children from going into care and from entering the criminal justice system; helping parents to gain employment; providing access to first-line mental health support to reduce referrals to higher level, more costly intervention.

Family Hubs are delivering significant outcomes: children and young people feeling safer; families being helped to improve parenting and children’s behaviour; better emotional wellbeing of mothers and children in the perinatal period and beyond; good lifestyle choices; more resilient families who can respond well to crises and cope with shocks; young people having strong attachment to at least one adult; and people being connected to and involved in their local community.

Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Children and Families, opened the Family Hubs Fair and expressed his support for family hubs and highlighted the £8.5 million LGA fund to support delivery of best practice. He then poignantly went off script to talk about the Valentine’s Day card he had received from his daughter Mia, and those strong relationships between family or friends which we all want in life.

Andrea Leadsom later took time out of a busy Brexit day to deliver a speech outlining her work as Chair of the Inter Ministerial Group for the Early Years. She emphasised the progress being made in supporting the crucial attachment between parent and child in the perinatal period and beyond and the implementation of her 20 years of experience encapsulated here at

The call for early intervention is not new, but now there is a clarion call for leadership nationally and locally so children and family services can not only survive but thrive through partnership working of innovative Councils such as Westminster developing family hubs. So look out for a family hub coming to you soon and join the family hubs revolution!

Hunt loses pole position in our Cabinet League Table as overall ratings languish

The Chief Whip has enjoyed something of a boost from last month’s victories on crucial votes, but the overall picture reflects a settled disenchantment.

Our last survey of 2018 revealed a Cabinet whose standing with the membership had scarcely recovered from the previous month, where we recorded our lowest-ever results since we started posing this question.

Has the New Year ushered in any re-appraisals or revivals of fortune? Alas, no.

  • Still 14 ministers with negative scores… And no change in the membership of that unhappy band, either: the Cabinet’s Remainers continue to predominate at the lower end of the table.
  • …but Smith almost breaks out. That the Chief Whip remains in the red doesn’t completely eclipse an impressive rebound, from -34.4 to just -3.8. Perhaps this is an outworking of the Government’s unexpectedly strong performance in those crucial Brexit votes – let’s see how this score fares after Valentine’s Day.
  • The rise of Leadsom continues. Last month we suggested that the Leader of the House’s big leap up the ranks might be a product of our readers’ loathing for John Bercow. If so, that well runs deep as she is up almost nine points and breaks into the top three.
  • Cox takes the top spot… But he does so whilst going backwards. Last time he was second-ranked with over 55 per cent, today he scoops the gold with less than 49.
  • Hunt loses his place on the podium. The Foreign Secretary records a serious fall, from over 60 to less than 42. We suspect this may be related to his becoming one of the most senior Cabinet members to float the idea of an Article 50 extension.
  • Javid falls into the mid-table. A loss of ten points takes the Home Secretary out of contention for the top three, reducing him to eighth place.
  • Are the non-Cabinet posts a barometer? Interestingly, both Paul Davies and Ruth Davidson have suffered some decline in their scores, despite neither featuring in any major stories and indeed the latter being on maternity leave.

May’s statement about the Government’s plans now. What she said and what she meant.

The biggest defeat in modern times and the largest Tory rebellion won’t stop her trying to resurrect her deal.

“Mr Speaker, the House has spoken and the Government will listen.”

And I am not resigning – though another Prime Minister in my position would.  The deal on which I gambled has just been rejected by the Commons by the biggest margin in modern times.  Conservative MPs voted against it in the biggest rebellion in modern times.  Some 63 per cent of Tory backbenchers went into the lobbies to oppose it.

However, the Fixed Terms Parliament Act offers me some protection.  Furthermore, a leadership challenge now can’t be launched against me until December.  In any event, here is no agreement within my Party on a successor.  It would be irresponsible to foist a leadership election on it, with March 29 looming, and there is no obvious alternative Prime Minister.

“It is clear that the House does not support this deal.  But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support.  Nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.”

In other words, it will soon become clear that the Commons can’t settle on an alternative to my deal, after all.  The same MPs who rejected it this evening will be forced to swallow it – with, God willing, some real change on the backstop – when this becomes clear.  The deal is also a known quantity with the EU, which the alternatives aren’t.

Better mention the referendum, too.  Honouring its result is still the default position of most of the Parliamentary Party.  I must keep Sajid and Jeremy and Steve and Penny and Andrea and Chris onside.  Best to say nothing about an extension to Article 50, though.  With any luck, that can still be avoided.

“People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible.  Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity.  So with your permission Mr Speaker I would like to set out briefly how the Government intends to proceed.”

That’s a nod of the head to all those tiresome people who drone on about EU citizens – don’t they see that the priority is to get immigration down to the tens of thousands? – plus the CBI and the car manufacturers.  Anyway, I must keep David and Phil and Greg and Amber and David onside.”

“First, we need to confirm whether this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House.  I believe that it does, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote it is right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so.  I can therefore confirm that if the Official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow.  And if, as happened before Christmas, the Official Opposition decline to do so, we will – on this occasion – consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other opposition parties, should they put one forward.”

That’s you pre-empted, Corbyn.  Mind you, once he’s lost his no confidence vote he’ll come under even more pressure to support a second referendum.  And whether he folds or not, he hasn’t got much alternative but soon to call for an extension to Article 50, in order to carry out his imaginary Labour Government’s imaginary “Labour renegotiation”.

That will be tricky for him, because calling for an extension will look like backsliding on Brexit.  We must nail him on that.  Hmm, hang on a minute.  I might need an extension too – to get my deal through, or else…and I must keep very quiet about this…to try to stave off No Deal chaos.  Best not to push him too hard.  Anyway, while there isn’t a majority in the Commons for revocation, there might be for extension.

“Second, if the House confirms its confidence in this Government I will then hold meetings with my colleagues, our Confidence & Supply partner the DUP and senior Parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House.  The Government will approach these meetings in a constructive spirit, but given the urgent need to make progress, we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House.”

This is the trickiest bit of all.  I need Yvette and her gang to come round to my deal.  That suggests flirting with a Norway-type solution and Customs Union membership.  Which would please David and Phil and Greg and Amber and David.  But I also need Jacob and his lot.  That implies no Customs Union and a Canada-flavoured deal.  Which would please Sajid and Jeremy and Steve and Penny and Andrea and Chris.

Better to keep talking and listening and listening and talking until they all concede the obvious: that there’s no alternative to my deal – the only offer that’s “genuinely negotiable”.  I won’t win Yvette and Hillary and the rest round by next week, but the seeds will have been sown.  So I must be very nice to them…but not so nice as to upset Brandon and Graham and the ’22.”

Third, if these meetings yield such ideas, the Government will then explore them with the European Union.

Fat chance!

“Mr Speaker I want to end by offering two reassurances.”

“The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to 29th March.  That is not our strategy.”

Yes, it is. But –

“I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years negotiating such a deal.”

That’s the point: the deal, the deal, the deal. Nothing has changed.

“As you confirmed Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my Right Honourable and Learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield is not legally binding, but the Government respects the will of the House.  We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amendable motion by Monday.”

Let Dominic table his Second Referendum Bill.  Let Nick try to get the Commons to settle on Norway Plus.  And let the Speaker bend over backwards to help them, which he will do.  Let them have their indicative votes and new Bills – which I probably can’t stop now, anyway.  It’s one thing to table a Bill but quite another to get it through the House.

So let’s table a motion next week that dresses up my deal with a bit of new language, sit back – and enjoy the show.  Sure, I can see how the House might, just might, settle on some Norway option before the end of March.  But accepting it would risk splitting the Party in two.  And it wouldn’t sort immigration.  Which will force MPs back to my deal…

“The second reassurance is to the British people, who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago.  I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum.  I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so.”

Better mention the referendum again. Kill off any speculation that I’m backing off the result.

“Mr Speaker every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government has heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask Members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people, who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do just that.”

Except, of course, it won’t be resolved.  When my deal passes, we’ll have the trade negotiation to sort.  The Political Declaration to flesh out.  Getting the deal and a Bill to enact the Withdrawal Agreement is only the start.  Years more of Brexit lie ahead!

And to get the best out of them, the country will need leadership. Knowledge of the process.  Experience.  A settled hand on the tiller.  When I promised the ’22 I’d quit before the next election I meant it, of course.  But perhaps some things can change, after all…