Should the Conservative party deselect MPs who rebel this week?
Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says YES.
Everyone, subject to exceptions not applicable here, has a right to stand for parliament. But nobody has a right to be the adopted candidate of a specific party. That party’s members, activists and leaders must be willing to adopt and support the candidate concerned.
If an MP cannot support the Tory Prime Minister or the Tory government in continuing to control the agenda in the House of Commons, then he or she can’t stand as a Tory candidate in the next election.
Comparisons with rebels under Theresa May don’t stand up, as voting against a policy is a different thing to seeking to seize the agenda from the government and handing it to others.
The Conservative manifesto on which our MPs stood at the last election said that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. MPs dishonest enough to not only abandon that but actively oppose their own government attempting to realise it should hardly be trusted with candidacy again.
That this is seen as even remotely controversial shows how weak discipline has become in recent times, and why restoring it is a salutary outcome devoutly to be wished.
Tosin Adedayo, a political consultant and Conservative party member, says NO.
There is no doubt that the 16m people who voted to remain did not vote for a no-deal Brexit, and it is reasonable to assume that a substantive proportion of the 17m who did vote for Brexit wanted to leave the EU with a deal.
This means that there is no public appetite for a no-deal Brexit. These “rebel” MPs are in fact fighting for the will of the people, not against it.
These are extraordinary times and Brexit is an issue of national significance. MPs should therefore be able to vote with their conscience and represent their constituents without fear of retribution.
Philip Hammond, David Gauke and the other rebels are longstanding, loyal and experienced politicians, who put conviction over convenience. They voted for Theresa May’s deal, which would have seen us leave the EU, when the Brexiteers did not.
This threat of deselection feels like a purge and rejection of moderate and progressive conservatism – a strategy straight out of Momentum’s handbook.
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