Your editor was told yesterday that eighty Tory MPs were already backing David Davis. A lot of such figures are going to be gossiped around the Westminster village over coming weeks and they all deserve to be treated with a Nicholas Soames portion of salt.
Only a few days after the 2001 election Michael Portillo's leadership team was claiming 100 parliamentary supporters. Mr P ended up a poor third as his campaign fell apart and MPs "committed" to his cause abandoned the once "certain winner".
The Conservative parliamentary party has been called the world's least trustworthy electorate... and with some justification. When IDS faced his no-confidence motion his aides received enough assurances from MPs for him to survive as leader. But, of course, there was the "lie factor" - leading one of those aides to warn IDS that he probably didn't have enough supporters. And sure enough he didn't - the "lie factor" equals at least 10%. One MP after 1997 promised his vote to all five then leadership candidates. Some MPs lie to leadership candidates in the hope of future preferment and others lie to the constituency associations they have promised to "consult". It's not the Conservative Party at its best.