Tories plotting to ditch Cameron?

by Daphne Liddle

BACKBENCH Tory MP Andrew Bridgen last week warned that David Cameron’s Remain campaign to sway the European Referendum has been so dishonest and insulting that a growing number of his colleagues want to see Cameron sacked as leader of the Tory party and a general election before Christmas — whatever the outcome of the referendum.

“Whatever the result, I believe his position will be untenable” said Bridgen, who chairs a Commons select committee. “David Cameron has placed himself front and centre of a disingenuous Remain campaign, setting himself at odds with half of the Parliamentary Party and 70 per cent of our members and activists on the most important issue facing our Country in a generation,” Bridgen said.

Bridgen suggested that the new Tory leader would want to call a general election in the autumn in order to win a fresh mandate — and to increase the party’s majority in the Commons. “The party is fairly fractured, straight down the middle and I don’t know which character could possibly pull it back together going forward for an effective government. I honestly think we probably need to go for a general election before Christmas and get a new mandate from the people.”

Many Tories are furious that Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne, have used the full force of the Government machine to “scare” voters into keeping Britain in the European Union (EU) whilst insulting Brexit supporters as “economically illiterate” and suggesting that voting Leave would be “immoral”.

To start the process of unseating Cameron would need at least 50 MPs each to send a letter to the 1922 Committee demanding a confidence vote, expressing their lack of support for the leader.

Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee, cannot reveal how many such letters he has received until the number reaches the 50 tipping point. It is believed he already has some and that other MPs may be waiting until they know the result of the referendum. There seems to be a lot of plotting going on behind the scenes and Bridgen reckons he has at least 50 MPs backing his call for a confidence vote.

Nadine Dorries MP, who is backing Bridgen, said that if Remain won 60/40, Cameron would probably survive: “If Remain win by a narrow majority, or if Leave win, he’s toast within days.”

But more senior figures in the Tory Leave camp backed Cameron and insisted that a confidence vote would not happen because the rebels would not get enough support. “I don’t think there are 50 colleagues gunning for the Prime Minister,” said Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary. “I can assure you that those people who fought to win their seats 12 months ago are definitely not gunning for a general election by Christmas.”

One Government minister predicted “a bloodbath” in the Tory party when the referendum is over, according to the Telegraph. “The whole campaign has become quite personal.” The minister said Cameron would probably conduct a revenge reshuffle to purge his senior team of Brexit supporters. “He will probably just machine-gun them all. It looks like it’s going to be ‘kill or be killed’ for pro-Brexit ministers.”

Meanwhile Cameron is insisting that voting to stay in the EU is the “‘big, bold patriotic” thing to do.

One senior figure said that Cameron would be more likely to survive if the referendum result was to Leave because there would be calls for a period of stability during the negotiations with Brussels over Britain’s exit from the EU. “But if there is a Remain vote, it will be very difficult for the Prime Minister,” the senior figure warned. “The Conservative Party will be profoundly unhappy. There have been threats in the past but this is a systemic problem. For the government, these really are very difficult times.”

Another minister said that Cameron would find it impossible to get any of his plans through the Commons because MPs were so angry over the referendum. The past six months have seen a succession of rebellions from backbenchers, forcing Cameron to back down over cuts to tax credits and disability benefits, new Sunday trading laws and, last week, the Queen’s Speech itself.

Opinion polls indicate the country is fairly evenly divided with those supporting the Leave campaign edging just ahead now — but it is impossible to predict the result right now.

It is just staggering that Bridgen believes the Tory party can win a general election — let alone with an increased majority — whilst the party is so deeply divided. But a new general election would be very good news for Labour and the labour movement.