Break: Danny Kruger, former political secretary to Boris Johnson and now Conservative MP for Devizes, tells colleagues to stop demanding resignation of Dominic Cummings on the grounds that such calls are tantamount to a vote of no confidence in PM @danny__kruger
In note to newly elected MPs Danny Kruger says: No 10 won't budge, so calling for DC to go is basically declaring no confidence in PM
Danny Kruger, whose family is close to Dominic Cummings and his wife Mary Wakefield, says Cummings is arguably guilty of a minor infraction of the rules
Break: I am told that a very tense meeting of the executive of the Conservative backbench committee 1922 has just concluded. Every Tory MP at the meeting and every MP who dialled in expressed deep concern at the impact of the lockdown on business
Am told the sentiment at the 1922 was: unless the lockdown starts to be lifted soon the UK may not have much of a functioning economy to come back to. Fears expressed that thousands upon thousands of businesses could soon go under
Some members of the 1922 executive believe the lockdown needs to be relaxed after the first week of May. ‘If we don’t do that we really will see thousands of businesses go under,’ one 1922 member tells me
As Jo Swinson prepares to launch manifesto senior Tories fear Dominic Raab could be under pressure from Liberal Democrats in Esther and Walton. “The chat among Surrey Tories is that Dominic Raab could be in trouble,” a senior Tory tells me @joswinson@DominicRaab
A Lib Dem victory in Esher and Walton would mark an astonishing turnaround. Raab won 58.6% of the vote in 2017 and had a majority of 23,298....over Labour. The Lib Dems came third with 17.3%
But Esher and Walton voted Remain in the Brexit referendum by 58.43%. So thinking among the senior Tories worried about the foreign secretary’s prospects is that, as a prominent Brexiteer, Raab could suffer if the Lib Dems rally the Remain vote
Senior Labour figure tells me: don’t assume this election is definitely on. Big push by some Labour whips for party to vote against programme motion, hoping that Boris Johnson would pull the bill at that point
So it could be shades of last week and PM’s #brexit legislation if scenario sketched out by senior Labour figure comes to pass. Bill would secure its second reading and then come to a standstill if programme motion is voted down
There is an almighty battle going on in the Parliamentary Labour Party with many MPs opposed to December election. ‘Fingers crossed,’ one Labour MP tells me after learning of hopes that programme motion might be voted down
An ally of Nick Boles tells he was so angry with Conservatives because Theresa May ordered a particularly aggressive whipping operation against his Common Market 2.0 proposal
PM’s objection to Nick Boles idea: familiar criticism that it would oblige UK to accept free movement. PM thinks the emergency brake allowed under his EEA proposal is meaningless bc it has never be invoked by current members and would involve EU retaliation if invoked. But...
...PM had another objection to Nick Boles idea which rang true even to some Remain Tories: it could threaten integrity of UK. PM feared that if UK stayed in single market through EFTA pillar of EEA that could increase support for Scottish independence...
When a PM resigns they are expected to protect the monarch from the political fray by advising which candidate is best placed to command the confidence of parliament. In normal times commanding the confidence of the cabinet shd do the trick. But...
...these are not normal times. A candidate commanding the support of this cabinet may not be enough if a significant proportion of the governing party (ERG?) suggest they have no confidence in the cabinet’s candidate. So ERG and PM could both have cards to play...
...if ERG or DUP kick off against Candidate X then PM could tell cabinet: I will not be able to advise the Queen that he / she can command confidence of parl. So some power still in hands of PM + whichever group in governing party in hung parliament that decides to kick off.
A source in The Independent Group told me last night of possible defection of the three Tories: I can neither confirm nor deny. But tomorrow [Wednesday] will be a busy day
Tory whips had assumed Anna Soubry would jump ship when new group was established on Monday. Suspicions grew that afternoon when she failed to vote in three Commons votes even though she was neither slipped nor paired. Tory whips saying the three have gone ‘very very silent’