On 13 December, the government suffered a defeat in parliament thanks to several Conservative rebels. This loss meant that parliament would get a final vote on the ultimate Brexit deal. It led to papers like The Daily Mail ‘naming and shaming‘ MPs on its front page.
On 15 December, The Daily Express had something similar to say about these rebels.
There’s just one problem with its logic. Can you see what it is?
Breaking it down
This is obviously quite complicated stuff, so we’ll break it down as simply as possible:
- Brexit is being delivered by the Conservative Party.
- The Conservative Party is in government because it has the most MPs.
- If the Conservative Party starts ‘sacking’ MPs, it will no longer have the most MPs.
- If the Conservative Party is no longer in government, it will no longer be able to “get on with Brexit”.
Hopefully, everyone kept up with that.
An end of government?
Of course, it isn’t quite as simple as that. A deselected MP would have the party whip withdrawn, and it would be up to them whether they voted with the government.
This means that the Conservatives could stay in power. They would, however, be reliant on the MPs they just released from the Conservative whip to vote in line with the party that just fired them.
If ‘sacked’, these MPs would potentially only increase their influence. Much in the way the DUP has been able to profit from the government despite its few MPs, these former Conservatives would be able to trade their allegiance for their own gain. And as what they want seems to be a more democratic Brexit, Theresa May would be torn between appeasing Brexiteers within her party and Remainers without.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act means that May probably wouldn’t have to call an election before 5 May 2022. But it’s hard to see how such a coalition could practically function.
It seems surprising that the professional journalists at The Daily Express didn’t spot this conundrum. Although, to be fair, the Conservative MP they quoted hadn’t realised it either:
Tonight, the Tory rebels have put a spring in Labours step, given them a taste of winning, guaranteed the party a weekend of bad press, undermined the PM and devalued her impact in Brussels. They should be deselected and never allowed to stand as a Tory MP, ever again.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 13, 2017
Unless of course she had, and this whole pantomime is just an attempt to intimidate politicians into toeing the Brexit line. Something which would sync up with Dorries’ previous attitude towards rebellion and deselection:
Since becoming an MP Nadine Dorries has rebelled against her own party no fewer than 47 times. pic.twitter.com/ISwh0dfb5b
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) December 13, 2017
— Tom Copley (@tomcopley) December 14, 2017
Take back control
If the Conservatives want to fire their own MPs, there’s little reason for us to stop them.
And with Labour ready to take back control of the government, such a move could actually be in the nation’s interest.
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