Coffee House

Big catch for Tory reconciliation team as rebel gives up anti-Cameron fight

7 April 2014

Mark Wallace has a fascinating post on ConHome reporting that Andrew Bridgen has written to the Prime Minister withdrawing his letter calling for a leadership contest. Bridgen, if you remember, is the only MP to publicly confirm that he has written a letter to 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady calling for a contest, and while he was flayed by the whips at the time, his letter stayed firmly in Brady’s desk drawer until this week.

One letter doesn’t make a happy party, of course, but that it is Bridgen who has withdrawn the letter is significant. As I mentioned last week when covering his latest HS2 mischief, this is an MP who knows how to corral colleagues into troublesome rebellions. He has been renowned in the Conservative party as a Cameron-hater whose troublemaking activities are as much personal as they are about principle. He could have caused the Prime Minister a great deal more trouble, too, had he been left to wander further into the wilderness.

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I understand that there has been a significant effort to bring Bridgen back into the fold in the last few months, with key Number 10 figures working to understand what it is that the Conservative MP wants, rather than dismissing his ideas out of hand. That the government eventually agreed to Bridgen’s proposals on the BBC licence fee was a sign that the Tory leadership has realised that not every suggestion from a backbench rebel is automatically without foundation or wisdom.

Further work is taking place on other similarly troublesome backbenchers, I understand, with a number of meetings designed to work out what exactly it is that needles them. Meanwhile the PM has mentioned to ministerial colleagues his joy that Stewart Jackson appears to have gone from being very cross with the leadership to being quite tribally loyal. Bernard Jenkin, who co-ordinated the letter calling for Parliament to have the power to veto EU laws, would be another troublemaker who Number 10 would be very pleased to bring back into the fold. But Bridgen is a big catch for the Tory reconciliation team.

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Show comments
  • the viceroy’s gin

    I think Dave is finished. This Bridgen guy is backing away so he’s not caught in the crossfire between superior forces. And you can smell that fire coming on, now.

  • Wessex Man

    You just don’t get it do you? Two days from now he will be heavily into Culture!

    • the viceroy’s gin

      “A few days ago I couldn’t even spell culture minister. Now I are one.”

      That guy bears a peculiar resemblance to the Broun, doesn’t he? He’s got the one-eyed look, too.

  • @PhilKean1

    Very disappointing.

    The worst part about his letter is that nearly every reason he gives for changing his mind can be taken apart.

    Here are just two.

    (1) – Economic recovery?

    Fragile, unsustainable and built on borrowing, Help-to-Buy, printed money and consumer spending.

    (2) – EU renegotiation / Referendum?

    A “renegotiation” that has been forced to change to a “reform strategy”.
    An alleged chance for the British people to vote to leave the EU at the same time the Prime Minister is making an already EU dependent Britain ever-more entangled in EU agreements, trade deals and opt-ins.

    An EU that has seen for itself that Cameron would never countenance taking Britain out of the EU.

    • telemachus

      The way I read you is as Putin reads those in Eastern Ukraine
      Next you will be asking Putin to come in on his white charger to rescue us all from the dangerous Cameron/Clegg Europhiles
      No wonder Farage expressed so much admiration last week

      • @PhilKean1

        They are dangerous.

        The rest of your comment is silly.

  • In2minds

    What Andrew Bridgen wants, what David Cameron wants, what he wants, what
    they want, etc. But all the time ignoring what the public wants! Forget what makes backbenchers cross try concentrating on the public?

    • HookesLaw

      The public wants 10 different things before breakfast, most of which are different to what you want. I doubt however that the spectator has the intelligence to debate the issue and discuss the merits of endless referenda where the organisations with money get what they want at the expense of the rest of us.

      • Wessex Man

        oh do put the dummy in!

      • @PhilKean1

        The public doesn’t know what it wants.

        The political class DO know what they want.

        So it is up to us to think for the public in order to protect them from corrupt, self-serving, treacherous, pro-EU Governments.

  • CharlietheChump

    So, what has changed? What have Bridgen et al been offered?

    • Makroon

      An assurance by Cameron that he will step down after the EU referendum ?

    • Colin56

      A peerage, I imagine, or if he is cheap to get, a knighthood. Any sort of bauble will do – bright and glittery is what appeases the political classes.

  • telemachus

    As Annabelle Fuller will tell you this MP has no credibility

    • Colonel Mustard

      Like you then.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Might I re-introduce the Coffee House to the concept of the reverse-entity? Like a non-entity but negative rather than neutral, he sucks any interest out of a subject.

    Is it a slow news day?

    • black11hawk

      This does on the face of it seem a dull article, but considering how much trouble this government has had with backbench rebellions this is actually quite significant.

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