15 May 2013 19:36:32

114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

130 MPs voted in favour of John Baron's amendment expressing regret at the absence of an EU Referendum Bill in the Queen's speech. 277 voted against.

Peter Bone, who was a teller for those supporting the amendment, has confirmed that 114 of the 130 were Tory MPs. That exceeds the 100 that Philip Hollobone was anticipating, and it far exceeds the 60 or so that some in Government were talking about. There were also 12 Labour MPs, 4 DUP and one Lib Dem.

Although it's not strictly a rebellion – thanks to the oddities listed by Andrew Sparrow here – it's still rather embarrassing for David Cameron. It seems that the draft EU Referendum Bill rushed out yesterday did very little to sway hearts and ayes. Many of his MPs don't think he's doing enough to reassure the public of his intentions.

And the whipping operation? According to Zac Goldsmith, this was a truly free vote with "no pressure from the Whips", so may help absolve them. But it doesn't shake the fact that Team Cameron won't be thrilled with tonight's outcome – or, more exactly, with this whole farrago in the first place.

Anyway, here's the list of the 114 Tory MPs who supported the amendment:

Continue reading "114 Tory MPs vote for the Baron amendment" »

13 May 2013 17:25:23

70 MPs sign up for EU referendum

By Harry Phibbs
Follow Harry on Twitter

The BBC's Norman Smith tweets that 70 MPs have so far signed the amendment to the Queen's Speech from John Baron MP which "but respectfully regret that an EU referendum bill was not included in the Gracious Speech."

Mr Smith adds that the DUP MPs have decided to support it.

The following signaturies currently appear on tthe Order Paper which I make 52:

  • John Baron
  • Peter Bone
  • Philip Hollobone
  • Philip Davies
  • Kelvin Hopkins
  • John Cryer
  • Douglas Carswell
  • Edward Leigh
  • John Redwood
  • David Davis
  • Bernard Jenkin
  • Dr Matthew Offord
  • William Cash
  • Crispin Blunt
  • Aidan Burley
  • Karen Lumley
  • Andrew Rosindell
  • Bill Wiggin
  • Chris Kelly
  • David Nuttall
  • Cheryl Gillan
  • Andrew Bingham
  • Fiona Bruce
  • Craig Whittaker
  • James Gray
  • Adam Afriyie
  • Jason McCartney
  • Henry Smith
  • Andrew Percy
  • Mark Pritchard
  • Ian Liddell-Grainger
  • James Clappison
  • Anne Main
  • Stephen McPartland
  • Heather Wheeler
  • Charles Walker
  • Sheryll Murray
  • Laurence Robertson
  • Bob Stewart
  • Richard Drax
  • Martin Vickers
  • Mike Weatherley
  • Gordon Henderson
  • Zac Goldsmith
  • Kate Hoey
  • Steve Brine
  • Nigel Mills
  • Andrew Turner
  • Julian Lewis
  • John Stevenson
  • Guto Bebb
  • Nick de Bois
  • Brian Binley
No doubt if Mr Smith is correct some more names will be there tomorrow.

11 Nov 2012 10:29:48

Tory MPs want to trust voters on Europe. Labour MPs do not.

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

A new poll of MPs, conducted by YouGov for the People's Pledge campaign, finds that there is a big gap between the percentage of Tory MPs supporting a referendum on Britain's EU membership and the percentage of Labour MPs open to such a promise.


The actual figures were as follows:

  • 41 out of 47 Conservative MPs surveyed said that their next General Election manifesto should have a commitment to hold an EU referendum.
  • 10 out of 39 Labour MPs surveyed said that their next General Election manifesto should have a commitment to hold an EU referendum.
  • 6 out of 9 Liberal Democrat MPs also supported a referendum.

Continue reading "Tory MPs want to trust voters on Europe. Labour MPs do not." »

1 Nov 2012 12:51:34

The thirteen Tory MPs who abstained last night include Graham Brady, Liam Fox and Charles Walker

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

In addition to the 53 Tory MPs who rebelled on the EU debate here's a list of the thirteen who apparently abstained (either deliberately or because of absence):

  1. Nigel Adams
  2. Adam Afriyie
  3. Graham Brady
  4. Glyn Davies
  5. Liam Fox
  6. Roger Gale
  7. Robert Halfon
  8. Jason McCartney
  9. Patrick Mercer
  10. Priti Patel
  11. John Stanley
  12. Rory Stewart
  13. Charles Walker

1 Nov 2012 08:45:29

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart: Key facts on the size and nature of last night's Tory budget rebellion

Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart are in the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham. Follow Philip on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2012-11-01 at 09.22.54Size: Some 53 Conservative MPs, including tellers, voted against their whip. That’s not the largest rebellion of the Parliament so far (which was over Lords reform), or even the largest rebellion over Europe (the revolt of a year ago, over a referendum, involved 81 Conservative MPs).  But it does make it a larger revolt than any Conservative rebellion over Europe before 2010 – including bigger than any of the Maastricht rebellions.

Systematic: This was not the Government’s first Commons defeat.  Even leaving aside the issue of Lords reform (where they were not formally defeated but withdrew the legislation in the face of certain defeat) they had previously gone down to defeat in December 2011 on the motion that the House had considered the economy – as a result of an old fashioned Labour ambush, with Labour MPs hiding until enough Conservative MPs had gone home.  Defeats caused by such tactical manoeuvres are embarrassing for the government but they do not represent a systematic problem.  Last night was the first Commons defeat caused by internal opposition, and it is therefore much more serious.

Young GeorgeWhipping: Nor, indeed, was it Sir George Young’s first rebellion as Chief Whip.  That honour went to a rebellion by Philip Davies on a Labour Opposition Day Motion on Policing on 24 October.  Indeed, it wasn’t even Sir George’s second rebellion.  That was a revolt on 30 October by six Conservative MPs on the Draft Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012.  But he won’t have lost much sleep over those. David Cameron has had three Chief Whips. Two – Patrick McLoughlin and Sir George Young – have been defeated in the Commons. Andrew Mitchell is his only undefeated Chief Whip.  We doubt that makes Mr Mitchell feel much better.

Continue reading "Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart: Key facts on the size and nature of last night's Tory budget rebellion" »

31 Oct 2012 20:26:41

Full list of tonight's FIFTY-ONE THREE* Tory rebels

51 in total, with two tellers:

  1. Steve Baker
  2. John Baron
  3. Andrew Bingham
  4. Brian Binley
  5. Peter Bone
  6. Andrew Bridgen
  7. Aidan Burley
  8. Conor Burns
  9. Douglas Carswell
  10. Bill Cash
  11. Christopher Chope
  12. James Clappison
  13. Tracey Crouch
  14. Philip Davies
  15. David Davis
  16. Nick de Bois
  17. Nadine Dorries
  18. Richard Drax
  19. Zac Goldsmith
  20. James Gray
  21. Chris Heaton-Harris
  22. Gordon Henderson
  23. Philip Hollobone
  24. Adam Holloway
  25. Stewart Jackson
  26. Bernard Jenkin
  27. Chris Kelly
  28. Edward Leigh
  29. Julian Lewis
  30. Jack Lopresti
  31. Karl McCartney
  32. Stephen McPartland
  33. Anne Main
  34. Nigel Mill
  35. David Nuttall
  36. Andrew Percy
  37. Mark Pritchard
  38. Mark Reckless
  39. John Redwood
  40. Simon Reevell
  41. Laurence Robertson
  42. Andrew Rosindell
  43. David Ruffley
  44. Richard Shepherd
  45. Henry Smith
  46. Bob Stewart
  47. Sir Peter Tapsell
  48. Andrew Turner
  49. Martin Vickers
  50. James Wharton
  51. Heather Wheeler
  52. John Whittingdale
  53. Sarah Wollaston

9.45pm: Tellers Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone added to lift tally of rebels to 53.

31 Oct 2012 19:18:09

Government defeated in EU budget vote; Commons votes narrowly in favour of Mark Reckless amendment

By Peter Hoskin
Follow Peter on Twitter

Minutes before the result of tonight's EU budget vote was announced, Westminster — and Twitter, natch — was abuzz with all sorts of contradictory rumours. No.10 was saying that the rebels had won it; the rebels were suggesting that they'd just missed out. Who was playing whom?

But, in the end, the confusion may well have been due to the closeness of the result. The government was indeed defeated, but by only 13 votes. Here's how it broke down:

Ayes in favour of the Reckless amendment: 307

Nos: 294

What does this change? In terms of the specific matter at hand, the EU Budget negotiations, it's hard to tell. The government says, for now, that it will continue to negotiate for a real-terms freeze when the Eurosummit convenes next month — although don't be suprised if ministers suggest more frequently, as David Cameron did in PMQs earlier, that what they really, really want is a cut, but that, sadly, is undeliverable, etc.

But tonight's vote could well have wider rammifications. Even though the number of Tory rebels looks to be lower than for last year's Tory rebellion — perhaps around the 50 mark — it is still far from ideal for David Cameron to have the word DEFEAT splattered across tomorrow's papers. Questions will be asked about his grip over his party. Questions will be asked about the new whipping operation under Sir George Young. Questions will be asked about the Tory Party and Europe.

But more signficant than all of that is what Mr Cameron actually manages to return with from Brussels. At the moment, it looks as though he'll struggle to secure even a freeze. But, as I suggested yesterday, an extended negotiating period could strengthen the power of any threatened veto, as Europe quivers at the prospect of no agreement being reached.

There's no point making predictions, though. There are countless participants in this grim comedy, from Tory backbenchers to the governments of Eastern Europe — and that means uncertainty all the way.

8pm update: 


ConHome will have more on tonight's vote as it comes in.

31 Oct 2012 18:50:04

Seven observations about the ongoing EU budget debate

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

The EU budget debate is still in full flow but a few bullet point observations:

  1. The Government is briefing that it is set to lose the motion. That might be expectations management but it is certainly set to be close. Guido Fawkes reported earlier that David Cameron had employed his all too familar trick of attacking his internal party critics. He still hasn't got the hang of party management or allowing whips to do the whipping so he can be prime ministerial.
  2. Mark Pritchard MP made one of the clearest contributions to the debate saying that soldiers, nurses and teachers in his constituency are all saying "not a penny more" to the EU when member states, councils and every constituent is having to make economies. Bernard Jenkin described the vote as "cry of despair" from MPs on behalf of a British population that is exasperated at the EU's wasteful behaviour.
  3. Labour may be being opportunistic today but I saw a vision of a Eurosceptic and fiscally responsible Labour Party that should frighten every Tory. Fortunately for Mr Cameron the Labour frontbench is so wedded to the EU project and also to the interests of the public sector unions that it is likely that Labour won't be able to become that frightening party.
  4. Tory Eurosceptic rebels are stating that Labour MPs are supporting their motion rather than them supporting Labour opportunism. The unwillingness of Labour to say that they will veto an EU budget deal has been repeatedly highlighted by Tory MPs. It certainly suggests that Mr Miliband's position is closer to posture than principle.
  5. Conservative MP Tony Baldry accused Tory rebels of "self-indulgence". He goes on to tell them to "get a grip" and "support the Prime Minister". Otherwise, he warned, Labour would be elected and Labour governments would take the country in the wrong direction on the EU question.
  6. Lib Dems have been strangely silent in this debate. They know their Europhilia isn't popular in the country and they're keen to stay off the record.
  7. Finally, the debate reminds us that on the question of the EU budget Britain is completely isolated. All of the other member states want some sort of increase. It is becoming clearer by the day that the EU and Britain have different priorities on a wide, wide range of issues.

29 Oct 2012 10:38:27

Tory MPs table motion to ensure EU budget "is reduced in real terms"

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

6a00d83451b31c69e2017d3cf1ce57970c-500wiLast week a group of Tory MPs began work on a campaign to encourage the Government to harden its stance on the EU budget. Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander have also now seized on the issue in an intervention in The Times overnight.

The Tory MPs have now agreed on a motion to be debated in the Commons on Wednesday (contrary to other reports there were never rival motions). The motion in the name of Mark Reckless MP "calls on the Government to strengthen its stance so that the next MSF* is reduced in real terms".

Continue reading "Tory MPs table motion to ensure EU budget "is reduced in real terms"" »

9 Aug 2012 19:02:37

Two People's Pledge ballots in North West Lib Dem seats find overwhelming majority favour EU referendum

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter.

PeoplesPledgeBushThe People's Pledge campaign group, which argues in favour of a European referendum, has just announced the result of two referendums it held in the Greater Manchester constituencies of Cheadle and Hazel Grove, voting for which closed at 5pm today. The two Lib Dem seats, which would be Conservative targets in a swing election year, saw a combined turnout of 29,276 people out of 83,266 ballot papers issued - a turnout of 35%.

In the Cheadle constituency, 13,606 (86.6%) voted in favour of a referendum. Only 2,068 (13.2%) voted against holding one. 

In the Hazel Grove constituency, 12,043 (88.5%) voted in favour of a referendum. 1,559 (11.5%) voted against.

The People's Pledge were quick to point out after the result was announced that the figures of those in favour - more than 12,000 in each case, was greater than the majority of either MP - Mark Hunter (Cheadle) or Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove). It's also worth noting that the percentages in support - nearly 90% - are very similar to the 89.9% who voted in favour in a referendum held earlier this year in Thurrock. The two constituencies polled today are seen as relatively suburban commuter towns on the outskirts of Manchester, both of which have traditionally elected Conservatives, before turning yellow in 1997, whereas Thurrock is a far more working class Labour-Tory marginal, yet all three constituencies voted overwhelmingly in favour of a European referendum.

Continue reading "Two People's Pledge ballots in North West Lib Dem seats find overwhelming majority favour EU referendum" »

5 Jun 2012 10:39:36

Tory MPs George Eustice and Andrea Leadsom welcome Open Europe's suggestion of £33bn cut in EU budget

By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter

Tory MPs from the Fresh Start Group that is trying to reforge Britain's relationship with the EU (recently profiled by my colleague Matthew Barrett) have welcomed a report from the Open Europe think tank that argues that big reductions are possible in the EU budget.

Austerity may be stalking the whole of the continent but the EU recently demanded a 6.2% increase in its own resources. The summits, dinners and other talking shops mentioned earlier by Martin Callanan don't come cheap. More expensive is the escalating cost of EU staffers. "Expenditure on MEPs’ salaries and allowances has increased by 77.5 per cent since 2005 and cost £154million in 2012, excluding pensions and transitional allowances." The Daily Mail continues:

"Expenditure on Commission staff salaries has risen by 17.9 per cent since 2005 and now totals £1.7billion.  Spending on schooling for children of EU officials currently stands at £137million, and is set for an increase in 2013 of 6.8 per cent."

Open Europe's alternative budget (can't find it online) includes scrapping a range of quangoes and also the second European Parliament in Strasbourg which France demands we keep but serves no useful function and costs European taxpayers £146 million. The think tank estimates 30% or £33 billion could, in total, be cut from the EU's unaudited budget.

Andrea Leadsom of the Fresh Start Group urged the British Government to be "far more aggressive in [its] negotiating position" on the EU Budget.

George Eustice MP added*:

“For too long the EU has decided what it wants to spend first and then simply expected member states to give it the money it wants. It needs to learn to work to a budget, to cut its cloth accordingly and to accept that it will have a complete freeze in income for the foreseeable future.”

* Quoted in The Times.

17 Apr 2012 17:48:22

Theresa May's statement to the House: "We can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good"

By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter

May Theresa in blackAfter much legal and diplomatic wrangling, Theresa May has managed to get Qatada back behind bars and begin the deportation process - if the courts will let her. May told the House this afternoon:

"The assurances and information that the Government has secured from Jordan mean that we can undertake deportation in full compliance with the law and with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. Deportation might still take time – the proper processes must be followed and the rule of law must take precedence – but today Qatada has been arrested and deportation is underway."

The Qatada problem has been a legal headache for May. When the ECHR ruled against Qatada's deportation in January, it did so on the unprecedented grounds that "evidence obtained from the torture of others might be used against him in future legal proceedings in Jordan". Since that time, May has had, crudely put, the right-wing press - in particular the Sun, which has campaigned almost daily on the matter - urging her to find a way around the ruling. Number 10 has also been keen for Qatada to be kicked back to Jordan, with the Prime Minister discussing Qatada’s deportation with the country's head of state, King Abdullah.

As well as being vigorously urged to take action by the press, May has faced calls from her backbenches to simply ignore the ECHR ruling and deport Qatada directly to Jordan. However, May has not done this: she has taken the route of comprehensively satisfying the conditions the ECHR ruling made clear. May described this process to the House:

"I have been to Jordan and held meetings with the King, the Prime Minister and several other ministers.  My Honourable Friend the Minister for Crime and Security [James Brokenshire] has travelled to Jordan.  And there have been several official delegations to follow up on ministerial negotiations. And these discussions are ongoing. The result is that we now have the material we need to satisfy the courts and to resume deportation."

Continue reading "Theresa May's statement to the House: "We can soon put Qatada on a plane and get him out of our country for good"" »

27 Jan 2012 13:01:44

Tory backbenchers Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin warn of the dangers of an "undemocratic" EU

By Joseph Willits 
Follow Joseph on Twitter

Bill_cash_mpIn a backbench debate on the European Council yesterday, veteran Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash warned that a proposed fiscal union would be both undemocratic as a whole, and damage the national interests of the UK. The Liberal Democrats, he said were currently an "obstruction to our vital national interests", and it was crucial for the House to be united on the future of Europe: 

"A house divided against itself will fall, and the situation will be worse still if it is built on sand. There are now two Europes, both built on sand, and the situation is not only precarious but dangerous."

Whilst a lack of growth in the Eurozone was "contaminating the UK economy", the situation across much of Europe was more worrying, Cash said:

"Elsewhere in Europe it is creating civil disorder, with youth unemployment of up to 45% in Greece and Spain, and 30% in Italy'"

In its present form, the European Union is "completely undemocratic" said Cash, and that "existing treaties should be sent to a convention so that all the member states could have the opportunity to face one another and decide what kind of Europe they want". Cash's most chilling prediction, was that a trend of a lack of democracy which exists within the current setup of the EU had the potential to mobilise the far right:

Continue reading "Tory backbenchers Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin warn of the dangers of an "undemocratic" EU " »

22 Dec 2011 12:15:45

Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

Martin Callanan is leader of the Tory MEPs.

Of course, we were supposed to be feeling "isolated". That was according to the newspapers with a federalist leaning - and especially if you listened to the BBC.

We were meant to be marginalised and misled too, but above all - "isolated". That was the buzzword on every corporation newsreader's lips and every euro-mad leader-writer's spell-check.

Yet isolated was about the last thing Tory MEPs were feeling as we gathered in Strasbourg for last week's plenary session. On the Monday after "Veto Friday", we felt united, hopeful, energised: all of those things; but isolated? Not that you would notice.

"Isolated" implies vulnerability, fear, even regret. On the contrary, Conservatives were feeling confident, invigorated and - not to put too fine a point on it - right.

Inevitably, there was a backlash against us in the parliament chamber. On Tuesday, the EPP's leader Joseph Daul provocatively said the Prime Minister's veto showed we in Britain lacked "solidarity" with the rest of the EU. He said we should therefore forfeit our hard-fought rebate (or as much of it as Labour hadn't already handed back). If anyone still thinks we should never have left the EPP, please take heed.

Continue reading "Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament" »

21 Dec 2011 11:20:13

History, Europe, family and needs of business feature in Christmas adjournment debate

By Joseph Willits 
Follow Joseph on Twitter

In yesterday's Adjournment debate before the start of the Christmas recess, a mix of topics were raised by MPs.

SkidmoreChris Skidmore MP (Kingswood), who also wrote on ConservativeHome yesterday about making history a compulsory subject for under-16s, spoke of the study of history reaching a record low. Skidmore said that "in 77 local authorities fewer than one in five pupils is passing history GCSE". Despite these figures already being low enough as it is, there was a need to break them down, he said, "because in places such as Knowsley under 8% of pupils are passing history GCSE". 

Skidmore continued:

"Often it is the Daily Mail or academics who discuss what type of history should be studied in schools, whose history should be studied, how history should be studied in the curriculum, whether we should have a narrative form of history or a more interpretive form of history that looks at sources, and whether history should be seen as a framework of facts."

Whilst this debate was important, he warned of history "becoming a subject of two nations" and Britain's isolation in Europe, if people were not united in the view "that history is a crucial subject that binds us as one nation".

Continue reading "History, Europe, family and needs of business feature in Christmas adjournment debate " »