|Ready to surrender Dave?|
There are also reports going round that the Tory whips aren't really indulging in total "arm twisting" over the issue. Newer members are getting heavy and constant whipping and whips are suggesting that some of the seventy have decided to wipe their name off the letter to the PM. But the older members such as former Cabinet Minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind are being subjected to "light whipping" probably along the lines of "please Malcolm support us" - "no" - "okay don't then".
Losing a vote on Lords reform would be a serious blow for the Prime Minister's authority over the Conservative parliamentary party. It is also noticeable that one of the main rebels is David Davis (Con Haltemprice & Howden) who David Cameron defeated for the Tory leadership in 2005. Following his speech on Europe, the former Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox (Con North Somerset) who also stood in 2005, but didn't get to the run off, is also thought to be on manouvres.
Usually loyal backbench MPs like Louise Mensch (Con Corby) has said she will be voting against the Second Reading as well as the programme motion. Angie Bray (Con Ealing Central & Acton) will be doing the same but as PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary) to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude so will be leaving her position probably by a sacking after not resigning. Conor Burns (Con Bournemouth West), who is PPS to the Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, has informed the Chief Whip in writing he will be voting against the bill and the programme motion. A number of other PPS' are also thought to be considering their position.
In the nineteen nineties the Conservative parliamentary party was riven with divisions mainly over Europe but the are clearly divided now, with loyalists supporting the Prime Minister's decision to stick by the coalition agreement. Some of the usual awkward squad are putting the boot in but to have around one third of the parliamentary party thought to be joining in this time means it is a serious threat. The scars will take time to heal and if they don't and Tory MPs realise they can say "ya boo sucks" to the boss and get away with it - this will be the beginning of the end for the leadership of David Cameron.