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Briefing: the Tory HS2 rebels

29 April 2014

High Speed 2 moved another step closer to actually happening last night, as the Hybrid Bill passed its second reading and vote in the Commons. 41 MPs voted against the bill, including 26 Conservatives who rebelled against the party’s three-line whip.

The rebellious MPs fall into three categories: those whose constituencies will be affected by HS2, those unconvinced by the project and the usual contingent of troublemakers. Then there are the MPs who stayed away from the Commons yesterday, mysteriously or otherwise. Here is a breakdown of the rebels and abstainers:

HS2 runs through their constituency

  • Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) – The former Wales Secretary has been one of the most vocal critics of HS2. She tabled an amendment to the Hybrid Bill, declining to give it a second reading. The Gillan amendment was voted down 451 votes to 50 before the main vote — see who voted for it here.
  • Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) — The former Vice Chairman of the Conservative party also tabled an amendment against HS2, which was not chosen by the Speaker. A long-time critic of the project, Fabricant claims there are 80-100 Tories with ‘really serious doubts’ about the project.
  • John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) – The former Deputy Chief Whip has said ‘there are other alternatives, which I believe have not been properly considered’.
  • Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) – He recently told the BBC 5 Live ‘there is nothing in HS2 for north-west Leicestershire at all’.
  • Dan Byles 
(Warwickshire North) – A campaigner with the ‘Stop HS2’ group, Byles pledged on his website never to vote for the line.
  • Bill Cash (Stone) – Although Cash is one of the most rebellious Tory MPs, his Stone constituency will be significantly disrupted by the line. Cash has pledged to his local paper to ‘fight this dreadful HS2 plan’.
  • Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) – Another campaigner with ‘Stop HS2’, Lefory has been fighting for the best possible compensation for his residents as well as trying to stop HS2 ever being built.
  • Chris White
 (Warwick and Leamington) – One of the MPs who delivered a HS2 petition with 100k signatures to Downing Street, White said ‘I have made clear my position – I don’t believe High Speed Rail would be good for our community environmentally, socially or economically’.
  • Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) – Pincher’s constituency will hit by the Leeds branch of HS2 in phase two. He told the Commons yesterday that building a ‘brand new railway line across virgin countryside in our part of the world just does not stack up.’



Some of the MPs below may represent constituencies close to HS2 but it will not directly affect their patch:

  • Steve Baker (Wycombe) – Although HS2 isn’t due to go through Baker’s seat, he has been a vocal critic, arguing it will have a negative effect on the surrounding areas.
  • John Redwood 
(Wokingham) – The former Wales Secretary and one-time leadership contender has questioned the economic case and questioned why the private sector isn’t investing in HS2.
  • Andrew Tyrie 
(Chichester) – The chair of the Treasury Select Committee has pulled apart the project several times and said recently there are ‘serious shortcomings in the current cost-benefit analysis’ of HS2.
  • John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) – Baron also voted against the HS2 Preparation bill last year.
  • Chris Kelly (Dudley South) – Kelly told his local newspaper ‘my vote in the House of Commons reflected concern about the cost of the project which I fear will escalate further. I was under no illusion that the bill wouldn’t be passed’.
  • Laurence Robertson 
(Tewkesbury) – Robertson has quizzed the Transport Secretary as to whether funds will be diverted from other projects, including those in his constituency
  • Bob Blackman (Harrow East) – HS2 does not pass through Blackman’s constituency, nor has he said much about it. Blackman may however have been aiding his neighbour John Randall (see above).
  • Mark Pawsey 
(Rugby) – Pawsey’s constituency would be bypassed by the line. Of HS2, he has said ‘I am not supportive of the proposals and do not feel they are justified in the current economic climate’.
  • Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth & Horncastle) – The Father of House has stated no public reason for voting against HS2.
  • James Gray (North Wiltshire) – Gray was a teller in the debate and signed a motion to prevent the HS2 Preparation Bill receive a second reading last year.

Anti-government rebels

According to The Public Whip, the following MPs have a high rebelling rate, compared to the average for the Commons of 1.4 per cent:

  • Phillip Hollobone (Kettering) – 20 per cent rebellion rate
  • Philip Davies (Shipley) – 20 per cent rebellion rate
  • Christopher Chope (Christchurch) – 20 per cent rebellion rate
  • David Nuttall (Bury North) – 17 per cent rebellion rate
  • Peter Bone (Wellingborough) – 15 per cent rebellion rate
  • Sir Richard Shepherd
 (Aldridge-Brownhills) – 12 per cent rebellion rate
  • Julian Lewis (New Forest East) – 9 per cent rebellion rate
  • Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) – 8 per cent rebellion rate

The abstainers

And finally, there are the MPs who didn’t turn up vote yesterday. Some ministers were not in Westminster, thus avoiding a tricky party vs. constituency dilemma. The absence of others, like the Prime Minister, remains unexplained:

  • David Cameron (Witney) – Unexplained. His official spokesman said ‘he does not always vote’.
  • David Lidington (Aylesbury) – Europe Minister who went to Estonia yesterday.
  • Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) – Treasury Minister who went to Brussels yesterday.
  • Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) – Attorney General went to Newcastle yesterday.
  • Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) – Justice Minister, reason unknown.
  • Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam) – Prisons Minister, reason unknown.
  • Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) — Civil Soceity minister, avoided a difficult decision.
  • Jo Johnson (Orpington) – Head of No.10 policy unit, reason unknown.
  • Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West) – Chair of the 1922 committee, reason unknown.
  • Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) — abstaining because of uncertain impact on the East Coast Mainline
  • Tony Baldry (Banbury) — Baldry is anti-HS2, which runs through his constituency, but he abstained to ‘make sure that those opposed to HS2 don’t turn a defeat into a defeat’.
  • Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  • Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury)
  • Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  • Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling)
  • Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  • Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall)
  • Robert Syms (Poole)
  • Richard Graham (Gloucester)
  • Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  • Richard Benyon (Newbury)
  • Phillip Lee (Bracknell)
  • Peter Bottomley (Worthing West)
  • Patrick Mercer (Newark)
  • Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)
  • Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  • Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire)
  • Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness)
  • Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  • Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest)
  • Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster)
  • Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  • Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)
  • James Duddridge (Rochford and Southend East)
  • James Clappison (Hertsmere)
  • Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  • Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  • Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  • Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  • Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  • Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  • Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  • David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  • David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  • David Amess (Southend West)
  • Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry)
  • Caroline Spelman (Meriden)
  • Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  • Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  • Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  • Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  • Anne Main (St Albans)
  • Andrew Stephenson (Pendle)
  • Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  • Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  • Adam Afriyie (Windsor)

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  • foxoles

    “Everyone knows that the case for HS2 has been fiddled, and there is no better example of this than the fact Government has refused to publish reports on the project, after the Information Commissioner said they had to be released in the public interests. The case for HS2 has kept changing: they said it would be green, but it isn’t; they have said it has a great business case, but it hasn’t; they have said it is needed for capacity, but it doesn’t provide capacity where it is needed; and they have said it will rebalance the economy and develop the North, but the opposite is true. So the question remains, what is HS2 for? The answer is as it always has been for no other reason than political vanity and strong lobbying from those with vested interests in HS2 going ahead. It seems that everyone besides the political elite knows HS2 will be a disaster, so whatever happens today, we will fight on.”
    Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin

    ‘Sickeningly ill-informed MPs vote [it] through … a precedent was created, as for the first time, MPs voted for a Bill knowing that the Government had overturned a legal ruling demanding that documents containing relevant information about the bill, the Major Projects Authority report, be made public.’

    The fight will not stop.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO2 HS2 – hail our heroes !

  • itdoesntaddup

    How about the other MPs who voted against? Not to mention the one third of Lib Dems and 70 Labour abstainers. They were all under three line whips too, you know. And the Lib Dems are still part of government.

    • itdoesntaddup

      Moreover, I think it wrong to categorise on the basis of “awkward squad” and “it runs through my constituency” when it is plain that those who are against this project cannot impose such a white elephant on taxpayers in good conscience.

      More to the point, what about those who support it? How can they sleep at night?

  • Cooper1992

    Is this some kind of joke??

    When I vote for an MP I expect them to vote on the serious issues. How the he1l can these MP’s get away with just ‘abstaining’.

    This is a classic example of putting their party ahead of their
    constituents. The ones who voted against HS2 I will tip my hat off to,
    but the ones who abstained I hope are chucked out of office in 2015.
    Self-serving s{um.

    • Cooper1992

      Furthermore I cannot believe the words ‘he1l’ and ‘s{um’ need to be moderated on here…

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