The Daily Telegraph

Whip warns of Tory discontent as 20 MPS pull support

- By Christophe­r Hope ASSOCIATE EDITOR

CABINET ministers have been warned there are 20 Conservati­ve MPS who the Government can no longer rely on for support when pushing draft laws through the House of Commons.

The warning from Simon Hart, the Government chief whip, means that the Tory majority has effectivel­y now been cut to 60 in the House of Commons.

The figure lifts the lid on the thinking in the Government’s whips’ office as it tries to deliver on the pledges that the party made at 2019 general election manifesto. It suggests that as few as 30 MPS now need to rebel to force the Government’s hand over controvers­ial legislatio­n.

However, given that the Government’s working majority is currently 67, owing to the number of by-elections the party has lost since 2019, it could mean that the Government’s actual majority is as low as 47 if all of the “unreliable” 20 Tory MPS abstained.

In that case it could mean that just 24 Conservati­ve MPS were required to defeat the Government.

The low bar explains why Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his ministers have amended plans in the face of relatively lowkey rebellions rather than fight them and test the Government’s 80 seat majority, secured at the 2019 election.

Mr Hart disclosed the figures during a private meeting of Cabinet ministers at an awayday in Chequers.

One Cabinet source said Mr Hart had made clear that “there are 20 Conservati­ve MPS that we cannot rely on in votes” and so ministers will have to adjust their strategy.

Many of the 20 MPS are said to be simply disaffecte­d with Mr Sunak’s leadership and so have stopped promising to turn out for every vote.

The Cabinet source added: “There are MPS who are not turning up and supporting us.”

The remarks would explain why the Government has folded on a number of controvers­ial issues when its landslide majority won in 2019 suggested they had a chance of winning them.

There was some puzzlement among loyal Conservati­ve MPS earlier this week when Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, issued a rallying call for MPS to unite behind plans to halt illegal crossings of the Channel from France in the face of “formidable forces” that she said would seek to stop them.

The Home Office is expected to introduce the Illegal Immigratio­n Bill before recess at the end of next week.

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