Over 70 Tory MPs, including four Select Committee Chairmen, oppose Lords Bill programme motion in letter to colleagues
By Paul Goodman
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1.45pm Update Conor Burns said on the Politics Show earlier this afternoon that some of the names of signatories have been withheld. No doubt they will be issued in due course - all part of the chess game with the Whips and, more particularly, Downing Street over the bill.
The Times's (£) Sam Coates has tweeted the story. I will link to it as soon as it's up.
The letter apparently says that the bill "threatens to pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis", and has been sent to all Conservative MPs. It is part of the tactical chess game that I wrote about earlier this morning.
The Whips will find it hard to get MPs who've signed a letter opposing the programme motion to support it, but some slippage must be assumed. However, there will be some bill opponents who haven't signed the letter.
So all in all, I will be surprised in the event of a programme motion being tabled if the number of rebels is below 50. The figure that the lobby will be watching out for is 82 - one more than the big revolt over an EU referendum last year.
And the number of signatories must less likely that a programme motion is tabled at all.
- The four Select Committee Chairman are Bernard Jenkin, James Arbuthnot, Graham Stewart and John Whittingdale - plus Malcolm Rifkind (Security Committee).
- As well as Sir Malcolm, there are two other former senior Ministers: Peter Lilley and David Davis.
- Members of the new intake include Nadhim Zahawi, Rory Stewart, Andrew Griffiths, Jesse Norman, Simon Hart and George Eustice.
The letter says:
“The Lords Bill is a measure of profound constitutional significance... It threatens to pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis.
“Specifically what is now proposed will undermine the primacy of the Commons, with competing chambers which will lead to legislative gridlock. It will create hundreds of unaccountable new elected politicians at a time when we as a party are committed to reducing the cost of politics an; gd it will produce a chamber which is less expert, less diverse and significantly more expensive than the present one.
“The commitments in our 2010 election manifesto and in the Programme for government - to seek consensus and to bring forward proposals - have been fulfilled. We hope you will support us in giving this Bill the full and unrestricted scrutiny it deserves.”