David Cameron arrived back in the UK this morning to newspapers full of talk of Conservative splits and plots. The moment of unity that followed his Europe speech has well and truly passed.
There’s no doubt that the gay marriage is causing a ruckus in Conservative Associations up and down the country and that Conservative MPs will go through different lobbies on Tuesday night. To some extent, this division in the Conservative ranks was priced in. What was not is the continuing and increasingly frenzied leadership speculation. The Mail and The Independent this morning detail plans by allies of the Home Secretary Theresa May to position her for the leadership in the event of a vacancy. Though, to be fair, they have been doing this long before this current speculation burst out into the open.
Part of the problem for Number 10 is that there’s a bit of a vacuum in Westminster which all this speculation is filling. Since the mid-term review, we have only one had one major coalition policy announcement: the single-tier pension. If the coalition had announced its proposals on social care, tax breaks for childcare and the like it would be on the front—not the back—foot.