Published on 18 Dec 2013

Tory MPs claim veto over future coalition

On Conservative Home’s website, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee has said quite firmly that there will be a protocol that requires Tory MPs to vote on whether the party can join any coalition in the future.

He doesn’t say whether that would be by secret ballot or not. Lib Dem MPs had a show of hands on whether to join the coalition in 2010, though there was some confusion as to whose hand went up when in a series of votes it seems that three abstained.

Last time round, some Tories felt they were bamboozled into a deal in an open meeting in which potential rebels were sidelined.

Talk to Tory MPs now and you would think they will never vote for coalition again. Talk to people close to the PM and they say “that could all change if they’re staring at five years in opposition as the alternative”.

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There are two other topics that come up a lot with Tory MPs: Europe and EU immigration. The government continues its propaganda offensive on the latter today with a speeded up timetable for the measure bringing in a three-month delay before EU migrants can claim welfare benefits.

Backbenchers say they haven’t given up on their amendment delaying the relaxation of immigration controls on Bulgarians and Romanians, though senior backers of that amendment acknowledge it’s more a cry of pain than a credible piece of legislation.

On Europe, you hear of Tory MPs planning their shopping lists for the EU renegotiation promised by David Cameron after a 2015 victory at the polls. Those MPs might want to take a look at Charles Grant’s piece in the FT  for a sense of how quite a few people think David Cameron is on course to severely disappoint many on his own side.

Charles Grant says the Germans might want a treaty change but could easily switch to a “fiscal compact” budget discipline enforcement contract if the pressures against a treaty were insurmountable.

His list of achievable goals very much focuses on the “line in the sand” approach that David Cameron and William Hague have talked about rather than the “give us back our powers” expectations that grew up around the PM’s Bloomberg speech in January.

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