"Rebel reserve" of 55 Conservative MPs "is being gathered for Cameron leadership challenge"
By Paul Goodman
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"An increasing number of backbenchers are privately discussing the possibility of attempting to unseat the prime minister before the poll in 2015 if the party continues to trail in the polls.
For the first time, discussions about ousting Cameron before 2015 appear to be spreading beyond the so-called “usual suspects” — a hard core of about 20 backbenchers who are hostile to his leadership."
It also claims that:
- Up to 17 MPs had now written letters of “no confidence” to Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee.
- A “rebel reserve”, comprised of about 55 MPs ready to write simultaneously to Brady, chairman of the 1922 backbench committee, is being gathered. 46 signatures are needed to trigger a ballot.
- Their names are being held by a co-ordinating MP who has obtained firm pledges from them to act at the same time.
- Reasons for dissatisfaction include same-sex marriage, the EU and - above all - the state of the polls and prospects for the next election.
I've heard similar talk within the last six months - but, although Cameron's leadership has been at risk since the boundary review, 17 MPs is only about 5% of the Parliamentary Party.
And at least 5% of Tory MPs are always unhappy about something or other. There is no serious disaffection with the Prime Minister at Cabinet level, and no obvious successor.
My view of a challenge is to ask: Is this the Conservative Party or the Judean People's Front? (Or the People's Front of Judea?)
A push for a ballot would be particularly maladroit given the likelihood of an In/Out pledge in the Prime Minister's EU speech - "within days", according to the Observer.
None the less, there hasn't been a leadership challenge story for some time, and the appearance of this one is worth noting.