First a quick reminder of the balance of power in the House of Commons:
The Tories have 316 voting MPs, the ‘rest’ have 313 (323 with DUP).
If the DUP
Abstain = 3 vote Tory majority.
Vote with the Tories = 13 vote majority
Vote Against = 7 vote minority
(For full explanation see my previous blog here)
A lot is being discussed about the potential rebellions amongst the Tories. It is, rightly, being pointed out that with this Parliamentary arithmetic it takes very few rebellious Tory MPs to, in theory, remove their majority.
Cue lots of discussion about hard Brexiteers and soft Remoaners, as if they were equally powerful in this situation.
But the truth is rather more asymmetrical. The ‘Removers’ have the whip-hand, the Brexiteers have almost nothing.
For example, if 20 Tory MPs who want a softer form of Brexit – say a ‘Norway’ type arrangement – rebel then they would not be alone. Most of the Opposition – even the DUP – want a much softer Brexit that Theresa May seemed bound for.
But of 20 Brexiteer MPs rebel against what they see as too soft a Brexit they will be almost alone. Most Tories and most Opposition MPs would be against them. One or two “Labour” Brexiteers would join them, but they’d be a rather pathetically small band.
So when discussions start about “Tory rebellions over Brexit” it’s important to remember that only one set of potential rebels has any real chance of success (unless of course the Opposition goes AWOL, which is not impossible).