McVey, Walker and Wragg. The most rebellious Conservative MPs in our survey of major votes.

22 Jun

Last week, ConservativeHome published a list of the 49 Conservative MPs who voted against the Coronavirus Regulations. As we said at the time, it was the biggest Covid rebellion since December 2, and a reminder that even if a Government has a huge majority, it can easily be rocked about by unprecedented events (a pandemic).

From 2020 and 2021, we have been keeping track of rebellions. It’s worth adding that rebellions can take various forms – Chris Green resigning as a ministerial aide, for instance – and that there have been many minor ones, so there may be one MP who is technically the most rebellious on less prominent issues. However, for the purpose of one article we’ve focused on major voting events. So who exactly has pushed back the most?

First of all, here is a list of the rebellions we tracked – with a nickname and link to recap on what each was about:

And without further ado, we can reveal that Esther McVey, Charles Walker and William Wragg are joint first in our “most rebellious MP” league table – with nine rebellions to their names. Here’s how they rebelled.

Esther McVey:

  1. Huawei
  2. Coronavirus Act 1
  3. Rule of Six
  4. Curfew
  5. Lockdown
  6. Tiers
  7. Third lockdown
  8. Coronavirus Act 2
  9. Coronavirus regulations

Charles Walker:

  1. Coronavirus Act 1
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Third lockdown
  7. Genocide Amendment
  8. Coronavirus Act 2
  9. Coronavirus regulations

William Wragg:

  1. Huawei
  2. Coronavirus Act 1
  3. Rule of Six
  4. Curfew
  5. Lockdown
  6. Tiers
  7. Genocide Amendment
  8. Coronavirus Act 2
  9. Coronavirus Regulations

MPs who have rebelled on eight occasions:

Graham Brady:

  1. Huawei
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Third lockdown
  7. Coronavirus Act 2
  8. Coronavirus regulations

Philip Davies:

  1. Coronavirus Act 1
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Third lockdown
  7. Coronavirus Act 2
  8. Coronavirus regulations

Richard Drax:

  1. Huawei
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Third lockdown
  7. Coronavirus Act 2
  8. Coronavirus regulations

Andrew Rosindell:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Lockdown
  4. Tiers
  5. Third lockdown
  6. Genocide Amendment
  7. Coronavirus Act 2
  8. Coronavirus regulations

Desmond Swayne:

  1. Coronavirus Act 1
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Third lockdown
  7. Coronavirus Act 2
  8. Coronavirus regulations

MPs who have rebelled on seven occasions:

Philip Hollobone:

  1. Huawei
  2. Coronavirus Act 1
  3. Rule of Six
  4. Tiers
  5. Genocide Amendment
  6. Coronavirus Act 2
  7. Coronavirus Regulations

Tim Loughton:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Lockdown
  4. Tiers
  5. Genocide Amendment
  6. Coronavirus Act 2
  7. Coronavirus regulations

Anne Marie Morris:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Lockdown
  4. Tiers
  5. Third lockdown
  6. Coronavirus Act 2
  7. Coronavirus regulations

Henry Smith:

  1. Huawei
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Tiers
  6. Coronavirus Act 2
  7. Coronavirus regulations

Robert Syms:

  1. Huawei
  2. Rule of Six
  3. 10pm curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Third lockdown
  6. Coronavirus Act 2
  7. Coronavirus regulations

MPs who have rebelled on six occasions:

Peter Bone:

  1. Coronavirus Act 1
  2. Rule of Six
  3. Curfew
  4. Lockdown
  5. Coronavirus Act 2
  6. Coronavirus regulations

Christopher Chope:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Lockdown
  4. Tiers
  5. Coronavirus Act 1
  6. Coronavirus regulations

David Davis:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Tiers
  4. Genocide Amendment
  5. Coronavirus Act 2
  6. Coronavirus regulations

Stephen McPartland:

  1. Huawei
  2. Lockdown
  3. Tiers
  4. Third lockdown
  5. Coronavirus Act 2
  6. Coronavirus regulations

John Redwood:

  1. Huawei
  2. Curfew
  3. Lockdown
  4. Tiers
  5. Coronavirus Act 2
  6. Coronavirus regulations

David Warburton:

  1. Huawei
  2. Tiers
  3. Third lockdown
  4. Genocide Amendment
  5. Coronavirus Act 2
  6. Coronavirus regulations
Some more notes:
  • We have stopped with MPs who have rebelled a maximum of six times during this period (out of 10 in total).
  • It’s interesting to note that some “familiar faces” when one thinks of a Tory rebel aren’t included in our league – Mark Harper, for instance, who leads the Covid Recovery Group.
  • Lastly, there are some new faces to our rebellion list: Siobhan Baillie, Karen Bradley and Miriam Cates were some of the MPs to recently vote against Coronavirus regulations.

Davis: Conservative Party loans and donations to the Party leader should require approval in advance

28 Apr

We reported on Monday that the Conservative Party’s Finance Committee didn’t approve any payments made by it to support any legal costs incurred by Boris Johnson in relation to Jennifer Arcuri.  It’s been asserted that the Party helped to fund these.

Members of the committee also say that it has not approved any Party payments that may have been made to help meet the costs of the Downing Street flat refurbishment.

It’s been reported that Lord Brownlow gave £58,000 specially for this purpose, at a time when there were discussions of setting up a trust to fund the work.

If that money was given to the Party to be passed on to the Prime Minister, should the Committee have been required to approve the arrangement in advance?

We believe that it should – especially since we’re now told that approval from the Committee is needed for any spending item of above £50,000.

Should approval also be required if the money was leant rather than given?  Again, we believe that it should.  But we are told that approval from the committee is sought only for donations, not loans “which don’t count as expenditure”.

David Davis told this site: “were a significant sum given or leant to anyone including the Party leader it should be approved by the Finance Committee in advance”.

Again, we stress that we’ve no objection to Party funds being used to support the Party leader – to cover, say, entertaining Tory MPs for party purposes; or travel costs; or, indeed, legal fees (in principle).

However, it doesn’t follow that we give carte blanche to the present arrangements by which such funding might be approved.  Indeed, the more ConHome learns about them, the more troubled we become.

Part of this site’s founding purpose was to campaign for members’ rights and, as we keep writing, members control of the Party’s spending is so limited as scarcely to exist.

Some of this money comes from donors in larger sums and some in smaller – and givers include the less well-off activists who knock on doors, sell raffle tickets, and stand as candidates; as well as better-off ones who join Patrons Clubs’ or write relatively large cheques.

The former Brexit Secetary is right and, as we said yesterday, Board members “are asking questions about what happened”.  They should insist that the Finance Committee consider loans as well as donations above a set level.

Matt Kilcoyne: Vaccine certification is an idea that should be allowed to sink or swim in a free market

31 Mar

Matt Kilcoyne is Head Of Communications at the Adam Smith Institute.

Since vaccines started being approved by British regulators at the very end of last year, the country has undergone a psychological transformation unlike any in my lifetime.

From fear of an unending cycle of lockdowns and limited freedoms came news from one Kate Bingham. Her work gave purpose to the privations that were coming, helped all of us that kept faith that there would be end to this disease by human ingenuity and within time to mean our actions to save lives, avoid economic scarring and adaption to a non-normal economic situation that would then have to be readjusted to soon after at even further cost too.

Given the mortality rates we’ve seen across the world and even here with extensive curtailment of our ancient liberties, it is reasonable to say the number of lives Bingham has saved alone will number in the tens if not hundreds of thousands and given greater evidence to the rightness of the choice to retain the jobs held in stasis by Bank of England furlough scheme.

These people and jobs saved through her tight and spread-bet pre-purchase agreements and the use of Britain’s comparative advantage in legal agreements, trade credit and other forward payment mechanism, and experience dealing with and preparing for rogue states that shut down exports or expropriate private property mean I fully back calls for Bingham to be elevated to a Duchess should it please Her Majesty.

The change in the psyche and morale of the British people her decisions enabled means that Cabinet can take positive decisions of true gravitas in a time of true national and international crisis. This requires careful and assured action. It might require prompt, wide impacting, and sensitive personal and national topics.

It could, let’s say for the sake of argument, include things like vaccination certificates for Covid. The idea hits all the right buttons to rile everyone in such divergent ways that they’ll talk past one another and fail to see the issues that are being discussed, why, and what is actually being proposed.

The first thing to say is that you personally have a right to full knowledge of medical data and records that are kept on you, assuming you are of appropriate age and sound mind. The governments within the UK have a near monopoly of service provision for healthcare save for all the private GPs that actually have a local duty of care to you to hold and maintain your personal records. They also can, via their contracts of supply and commissioning of care of other services with the NHS and associated parts, pass data onto third parties with your consent.

The lack of a series of principles over the free use of data between consenting individuals and third parties, and the lack of direction even by government towards the suitability or otherwise, never mind the likely legal consequences of using the data of vaccine take up to determine suitability of access to new or existing roles.

In the space provided by a lack of determination in good time, trade associations burned by huge restrictions announced against their members’ interests and often provided with evidence after the event with the scope and scale of restrictions decided by committees rather than parliament in the primary role.

All action must now and in future, and should’ve been the case throughout the pandemic, be based upon scientifically testable hypotheses, all the reasoning deduced and relied upon and all assumptions set out.

It is telling of a lack of trust between governed and government that pubs do not trust the word of a party that prides itself as being one of business to promote policies as we get back to the business of living that would enable them as far as possible now they’ve jabbed enough arms to reduce risk of reinfection and mortality.

Laws from now should be freedom-oriented to remind Tory voters that actively value the ability to enjoy the things that make life worth living they will be able to enjoy them. Around 20 per cent of publicans say they want to access punters and staff for proof of vaccines to ensure their, their staff and all of their families’ health.

The Government’s role here is to ensure that individuals have access to the ability to consent to their records being displayed by an accredited source (whether just their GP signing and by word of their bond confirming, or a company that facilitates access that across multiple GPs in a usable format for other firms without contravening data protection rules).

We know well the issue of mission creep with ID cards a totemic Tory issue after the defeat of Tony Blair’s flagship policy and David Davis’ whole career centred around civil liberties. But this is a facilitation not a coercion or anything mandated. Even if Blair is a principle agent of the campaign to promote their use — and I share concerns about the number of meetings he has had with serious ministers and civil servants on the topic given a the financial gain any company could get from providing either national or international accreditation of such valuable information on behalf of an individual. And elsewhere yellow fever and rabies certificates are in use regularly when crossing borders. Nigeria could teach us a thing or two about digital storage and transfer of said data and forgeries still emerging.

Government can signal intent on rejection of mandate by declaring it will not check status upon leaving the country or ahead of access to existing NHS services. The areas where people will encounter officialdom most keenly.

Liberalism demands freedoms to associate and self organise, and Conservativism demands the liberties of the individual by upheld by institutions acting in their care. Vaccine certification is actually a simple idea that should be allowed to sink or swim in a free market. Let’s let them, and keep an eye on vested interests with cosy relationships benefiting friends for sure. But let’s enable anything that let’s us live our lives again.

The 29 Conservative MPs who supported the China genocide amendment

23 Mar
  • Adam Afriyie
  • David Amess
  • Bob Blackman
  • Crispin Blunt
  • Peter Bone

 

  • Andrew Bridgen
  • Reman Chishti
  • Christopher Chope
  • David Davis
  • Richard Drax

 

  • Ian Duncan Smith
  • Mark Francois
  • Nusrat Ghani
  • Sally-Ann Hart
  • Philip Hollobone

 

  • Jeremy Hunt
  • Bernard Jenkin
  • Andrew Lewer
  • Julian Lewis
  • Tim Loughton

 

  • Craig Mackinlay
  • Kieran Mullan
  • Caroline Nokes
  • Matthew Offord
  • Andrew Rossindell

 

  • Bob Seely
  • Derek Thomas
  • Charles Walker
  • David Warburton

Henry Hill: As the election looms, the tide seems finally to be turning against the Scottish Nationalists

18 Mar

This week marked something of a watershed moment, certainly for the Salmond/Sturgeon scandal and perhaps yet for devolution too. After months of watching the Scottish Government hamstring the official Holyrood inquiry into its mishandling of allegations against Alex Salmond, Westminster stepped in.

Liam Fox prepared the way, quizzing the Prime Minister and then the Speaker about Parliament’s responsibility towards civil servants in Scotland. As part of the broader Home Civil Service, it follows that they are accountable to – and should be able to call on the support of – their most senior colleagues in London. And that there is a Minister somewhere answerable to Parliament about them.

Then David Davis stepped up, using parliamentary privilege to put into the public domain what he claimed was fresh evidence he had received from a whistle blower about the conduct of the Scottish Government – evidence his source apparently claims ‘point to collusion, perjury, up to criminal conspiracy’. I wrote up his speech in detail yesterday.

Both interventions reflect a potential new front opening up in the constitutional battle between the Union and its opponents. Where the UK Internal Market Act has seen the Government start to assert itself more in previously devolved spheres, this represents the legislature stepping up to its responsibilities.

Unionists won’t want to rock the boat too much ahead of May’s Scottish elections. But when those are over, there is an interesting debate to be had about procedural or institutional changes that could address the issues these interventions have raised – perhaps bundling privilege for MSPs with stronger lines of accountability for civil servants, or even reviving Fox’s old idea of drawing an upper house for the Scottish Parliament out of the House of Lords. I’ll be looking at this in more detail later.

In the meantime, the polls continue to show a slide in the SNP’s support. They’re still on track to hold on to power in Edinburgh, but it looks as if whatever magic insulated their public standing from the torrent of bad stories their government was generating may finally be running out of steam. When you see Nationalist ministers snarling about ‘rigged polls’, and SNP efforts to put ‘indyref2’ on the ballot paper, you know they’re spooked. The latter play is especially important because it suggests they may be falling back on their (very substantial) core vote.

There have also been a string of polls from different companies putting the Union ahead in a hypothetical second referendum. Obviously this no more represents the ‘settled will’ of the Scots than did the previous string of pro-separation results, but it will all make it easier for the Prime Minister to maintain his opposition towards a granting a re-run of 2014.

One poll, commissioned by campaign group Scotland in Union, used the EU referendums Leave/Remain framing and delivered a pro-UK share of 57 per cent – a remarkable illustration of how high the stakes would be in negotiating the question and how reckless was David Cameron to concede so much to the SNP ahead of the 2014 vote.

The story continues to develop: just two days ago, after pressure from the Conservatives, the Scottish Government have finally published their own review into the Salmond fiasco, which calls for the process to be taken out of the hands of civil servants.There will doubtless be more to come in the weeks ahead.

Unionists will struggle to oust Sturgeon as First Minister. But she has already served in that role for seven years, and is finally showing signs of political mortality. If they can do enough to let Boris Johnson kick independence into the long grass, that might very well be enough.

Davis delivers yet more evidence of shady behaviour by the SNP – but will it matter?

17 Mar

Last week, we wrote about Liam Fox’s suggestion that Parliament might have a legitimate role to play in the political drama unfolding in Scotland, because the entire Home Civil Service, of which the Civil Service in Scotland is part, is answerable to it.

Yesterday, David Davis justified his own intervention in the Salmond/Sturgeon saga on different grounds: that due to shortcomings in the way New Labour set up the Scottish Parliament in 1998, he was able to speak with the protection of parliamentary privilege where MSPs were not.

Alex Massie dismisses his calls for an even more powerful Scottish Parliament as ‘concern trolling’, and one must hope so. But regardless of his motives, his speech touched on several different dimensions of this complex and confusing story. What did he say?

Initial complaints

For the benefit of those who haven’t been following the story in granular detail, Davis set out just how the Scottish Government first botched the investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond.

He highlighted how the former First Minister was investigated under a brand-new set of procedures. That these new system was lopsided, as it applied retro-actively to politicians but not to civil servants. How the Head of Propriety and Ethics in Whitehall “expressed discomfort” at this, but received no reply. But most importantly:

“However, the Scottish Government also ignored its own policy, the new policy and appointed an Investigating Officer who it emerged had had prior contact with the complainants. And not just any contact. A potential complainant was asked for their input on the draft procedure before they had formally made their complaint.”

One does not need to buy Salmond’s allegations of a conspiracy to see why he might be suspicious of a stitch-up.

Legal challenge

As we know, the former First Minister then brought a judicial review against the policy. He won, and was awarded costs “at a punitive level reserved for defences conducted ‘incompetently or unreasonably’, in Davis’ words.

When the Scottish Government was finally compelled, by the threat of a vote of no confidence in John Swinney, to publish its legal advice on the case, it emerged that it had insisted on fighting on for months against the advice of its own lawyers. Indeed, that it appeared to have actually misled its counsel, and caused them “extreme professional embarrassment” in the process. Davis:

“This was a government that actively withheld important, relevant information. In one case a critically relevant email was actively removed from an information bundle that was going to the court and which had already been approved by government counsel.”

The Scottish Government has yet to provide a compelling explanation for why the decision was made to fight on, at such huge public expense, when the lawyers insisted their case was doomed. The meetings where the decisions were taken were allegedly, and remarkably, not minuted. So again, one can see why Salmond might think they were hoping to string things out long enough that events overtook it and the story was eclipsed by his criminal trial.

The role of the Lord Advocate

Davis zeroed in on the role of the Lord Advocate, the Scottish equivalent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who heads the Crown Office. Conspiracists have focused on the fact that the Lord Advocate sits in the Scottish Cabinet, and Davis too played up ‘separation of powers’ concerns. First, in relation to the above-mentioned court case:

“In one case a critically relevant email was actively removed from an information bundle that was going to the court and which had already been approved by government counsel. I don’t know who took that email out – I have it here. I don’t know who took it out, I don’t know who gave the instruction. But in my view the removal of that document would be a summary dismissal offence, and possibly a criminal offence. At the very least it would be in contempt of court. And yet over his three evidence sessions the Lord Advocate, the Chief Law Officer of Scotland, did not see fit to mention this crucial incident to a Parliamentary committee trying to get to the truth.”

Second, he highlighted how the Crown Office intervened to censor evidence being given to the Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s mishandling of the initial complaints. This was allegedly to protect the identity of the complainants, yet when the Spectator published the evidence online it revealed that the redacted passages referred instead to allegations that Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code:

“But when The Spectator went to court to secure the publication of that evidence, the Crown Office made no objection whatsoever to the paragraphs it bullied the Holyrood inquiry to redact. This leaves an absurd situation where the inquiry cannot speak about evidence that is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. The redactions are clearly therefore not designed to protect the complainants. They are designed to protect the First Minister from accountability to the inquiry.”

The Crown Office’s intervention meant MSPs could not question witnesses about the contents, even though they were publicly available online.

The SNP

Perhaps the most serious allegation, however, was Davis’ claim to have new evidence, passed to him by a whistleblower, that senior figures in the Scottish National Party seem to have been playing an active role in trying to create a case against Salmond:

“…these texts show that there was a concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints. The messages suggest that SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell coordinated Ruddick and Iain McCann, the SNP’s Compliance Officer, in the handling of specific complainants. On the 28th September, a month after the police started their investigation of the criminal case, McCann expressed great disappointment to Ruddick that someone who had promised to deliver five complainants to him by the end of the week had come empty or ‘overreached’ as he put it.”

Davis noted that one complainant said she felt “pressured, rather than supported”. That this process of ‘fishing’ – in the words of Sue Ruddick, the SNP’s Chief Operating Officer – continued after the criminal investigation into Salmond had begun. That other SNP members knew about this ‘witch hunt’ in the words of one, since 2018. That Peter Murrell’s claim that his texts about ‘pressurising’ the detectives investigating the case were out of character no longer stacks up.

Furthermore, Davis then claimed to have it “on good authority” that civil servants investigating the allegations against Salmond were complaining about ‘v bad’ interference from Liz Lloyd, Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, in February 2018. The Scottish Government says: “The comment read out by Mr Davis in relation to the chief of staff does not relate to Ms A or Ms B and, at that time, she was not aware that there was any connection to the former first minister”.

But if so, why was Lloyd interfering? And if not, it shows that she knew of the Salmond case months before she told the Scottish Parliament she did.

So what?

This is a story with so many moving parts that it can be hard to pin down what’s important. Salmond’s wilder allegations of a grand conspiracy only muddy the waters further – and nothing that comes out as this story develops will erase the fact that the allegations against him were made, and the police felt them serious enough to take them to court.

Likewise, we should treat the claim of Davis’ whistleblower that the new evidence ‘point to collusion, perjury, up to criminal conspiracy’ with caution. It might, but leaks can serve agendas just as cover-ups do.

Sturgeon’s opponents have focused on the question of what the First Minister knew and when. It seems extremely unlikely that all of this could have been going on inside so centralised a party as the SNP without the leader of that party being informed. But if she did know, then Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament. In another universe, that might be a resigning issue. As might burning half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money losing a legal challenge one had to mislead one’s lawyers to fight at all.

But by drawing this out as long as it has, the Scottish Government may have got close enough to the upcoming Holyrood elections to stave off calls for the First Minister’s resignation. Sturgeon can simply say that it is for the Scottish electorate to judge her. (As Ian Smart points out, she appears to have neutered James Hamilton QC’s investigation into whether or not she broke the Ministerial Code in a like fashion.)

But Davis’ revelations will, alongside other developments only deepen the shadows this affair will cast over the SNP’s re-election campaign, just as polling suggests the scandal is finally starting to undermine the Nationalists’ position with the voters. And it may yet be that MPs at Westminster can uncover the smoking gun their colleagues at Holyrood have failed to turn up.

Andrew Lewer: It’s time to turn the taxpayer funding of left-wing student union campaigning

20 Jan

Andrew Lewer is MP for Northampton South.  He is founder and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Independent Education,

Together with twenty other Conservative Members of Parliament I have written to the Prime Minister urging him to tackle the problem of student union political activism. While successive Conservative Governments have tackled the problems posed by trade union radicalism, student union leftist activism has been left relatively untouched.

Student unions are now at the forefront of the so-called culture wars, pursuing a narrow ‘social justice’ political agenda focused on tackling alleged ‘structural oppression’ in society.

Moreover, they seek to limit free speech on campus, variously by blocking the sale of certain publications, barring speakers or seeking to approve their speeches in advance, blocking the formation of free speech societies, preventing certain groups from participating in freshers’ fairs, and imposing excessive red tape to make it difficult to invite speakers of whom they disapprove.

Reform of student unions is central to implementing the Conservative Manifesto commitment to strengthen free speech in universities. Why this matters so much was underlined in a superb speech from David Davis on the crucial nature of free speech in universities in a Ten Minute Rule Bill earlier this week, citing Voltaire and the Bill of Rights.

Students themselves are alienated from student unions. Research shows that only around ten per cent of students vote in student union elections, with less than three per cent of students electing delegates to the National Union of Students (NUS), demonstrating the unrepresentative nature of that left-wing activist body. Judging by its social media activity, NUS’s main current focus is ‘decolonising the curriculum’.

Of course, in some cases a higher turnout is achieved. For example a truly magnificent four per cent of students participated in last November’s election of NUS delegates at Cambridge University. It is abundantly clear that the vast majority of students have no interest in either the NUS or activist/political student unions, and resent being bullied and hectored by leftist student politicos.

It is inappropriate for taxpayers to have to foot half the £165 million bill for student unions, and for students themselves to be forced to pay the other half, given this kind of activity.

We should adopt a similar approach to that applied to trade union reform. Students should have to actively opt-in to become members of student unions and the NUS, and just like the strike ballot threshold, consideration should be given to a membership and election turnout threshold, which student unions should be required to reach before they can play any part in university governance.

There is a strong case for student unions being limited to supporting social and sports activities, as well as academic representation. Meanwhile, if any students wish to fund political activism or join the NUS they should of course be free to do so, but at their own expense and paying any subscriptions from their own pockets.

Students need to be freed from student unions and allowed to get on and enjoy their time at university without suffering constant political harassment. We very much hope that action will be taken by the Government as soon as Covid permits its attention to return to the domestic reform agenda.

The 33 Conservative MPs who rebelled over the Genocide Amendment

19 Jan
  • Ahmad Khan, Imran
  • Amess, David
  • Blackman, Bob
  • Blunt, Crispin
  • Bridgen, Andrew

 

  • Crouch, Tracey
  • Davis, David
  • Djanogly, Jonathan
  • Duncan Smith, Iain
  • Ellwood, Tobias

 

  • Francois, Mark
  • Ghani, Nusrat
  • Gillan, Cheryl
  • Gray, James
  • Green, Damian

 

  • Hart, Sally-Anne (pictured)
  • Hoare, Simon
  • Hollobone, Philip
  • Jenkin, Bernard
  • Latham, Pauline

 

  • Lewer, Andrew
  • Lewis, Julian
  • Loughton, Tim
  • Mackinlay, Craig
  • Nokes, Caroline

 

  • Richards, Nicola
  • Rossindell, Andrew
  • Seely, Bob
  • Tugendhat, Tom
  • Wakeford, Christian

 

  • Walker, Charles
  • Warburton, David
  • Wragg, William

Today’s genocide amendment had no relation whatsoever to recent votes on Covid – or other major rebellions that this site has been chronicling.

But there is considerable overlap between the rebels on those lists and on this one.  And even newcomers to our records such as Sally-Ann Hart and Nicola Richards have voted against the Government previously (though rarely).

Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the amendment, lists of those defying the whips now have a certain predictability.

Andrew Rosindell: How close we came to waking up in the backstop

8 Jan

Andrew Rosindell is the MP for Romford.

How close we came to waking up on January 1 trapped in the backstop. That misery would have been quickly overtaken by the new national lockdown announced on Monday night. But this would in no way have diminished in the longer-term the ramifications of being trapped in a customs union with no way out.

To the true Brexiteers, the sensible outcome to the Brexit process was always a Canada-style free trade agreement which took back control of our laws, money, borders and waters, while still allowing both the UK and the EU to trade together as equal partners on mutually-beneficial terms.

Unfortunately the EU spent the next few years in a desperate and arrogant attempt to punish our nation for the Brexit vote. It tried to trap our nation in a customs union, demanded tens of billions in exit fees, demanded a continuing role for its courts in UK affairs and made blood-curdling threats of economic punishment.

In a way it showed self-awareness. Because it is only with threats and traps – much in the fashion of the Chinese Communist regime (with whom the EU is now engaging in a nauseating romance) – does EU membership become preferable to the freedom of being a sovereign, independent nation.

All told, the EU generally appeared aghast at the affirmations by the British people of their democratic right to decide their future. To me this demonstrated that the only way out was a completely clean break: to walk away, for good if necessary.

It is why I and my Spartan colleagues voted on three separate occasions against Theresa May’s Brexit deal. If we hadn’t held out against the pleas of our colleagues, from both the Remain and Brexit wings of the party, then we would have woken up on New Year’s Day trapped in the backstop. What should have been a moment of restored sovereignty would simply be a new future paralysed by the EU’s protectionist trading bloc.

The Prime Minister voted for that deal, at the third attempt. I believe he feared for Brexit if the deal wasn’t passed. Fortunately for him, the Spartans gave Brexit a chance. And once Boris was at the reigns he was always ready to walk away. He realised no deal really is better than a bad deal.

With this strategy he was able to bring before the House of Commons an agreement which facilitates free trade with zero quotas and tariffs, without the UK being part of the Single Market or Customs Union and with no control over us by the European Court of Justice.

It will give us the freedom to chart our own course. It will mean the establishment of freeports and new enterprise zones to turbocharge the regions. It means we can change our VAT policy, for example on home insulation products as my friend and colleague John Redwood has noted.

It means we can revitalise nationally important industries with targeted support, such as shipbuilding. It means we can sign free trade deals with our closest friends and allies in the Commonwealth, and improve economic ties with some of the fastest growing economies.

Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, has already negotiated trade deals with 61 countries, including one deal, the UK-Japan FTA which goes beyond the existing EU-Japan agreement, particularly on data and digital matters. The backstop would have precluded much of this.

The new agreement with the EU is not perfect. There are flaws in the deal. The transition period for fisheries is too long, the Northern Ireland protocol threatens to divide our country and I am nervous of the separate deal on Gibraltar, given Spain’s record.

Finally, I was disappointed that our British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies did not seem to be fully included. I also share David Davis’s comments on this website, where he highlights how far ahead of the EU we are in many areas of regulation, particularly animal welfare, but also on energy and labour law. Any arbitration panel which rules on deviations from the “level playing field” must recognise that there is no “level playing field” at present. It is the EU undercutting the UK in many ways.

There are problems, then. However, I and my colleagues have come to the conclusion that this is still a good agreement: it restores our sovereignty, avoids temporary disruption of ‘no deal’ and avoids the acrimony which would define UK-EU relations going forward if no agreement had been reached.

There is nothing in the agreement which compromises our sovereignty in the manner of the backstop. Yet where there are flaws, there are fights still to be had. I have demonstrated that I am ready for these battles, as have my fellow Spartans.

For now, let’s celebrate the restoration of sovereignty to these islands and move onto the next challenge: getting the country vaccinated, lifting these Covid-19 restrictions, and revving up the UK economy for a new, better, more prosperous and, I hope, a more united decade.