Tory MPs Face a Weekend of Soul SearchingIDS Leaning on Dave mdi-fullscreen

Guido speculated yesterday as to what Iain Duncan Smith will do on Monday. He is reportedly lobbying Dave to reduce the Whip to one line, something that Guido, at this stage, fully expects to happen in order to avoid a sizeable walkout. Euroscepticism is at IDS’s core, far more so than any other senior Cabinet Minister, and he’s almost un-sackable in many ways. He’s still in a tight spot here though. Those who suggested that IDS might quietly slip off to his favourite haunt – the Slug and Lettuce – during the vote, have come unstuck. Immediately before the debate on Monday’s order paper is: “Questions to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, including Topical Questions.”

As the cold war between Cameron and his party’s conscious rapidly warms up, there is soul searching going on from the Cabinet down to the humble backbencher. One A-lister – George Freeman – was overheard yesterday decrying the fact his association are threatening him with de-selection if he votes against the referendum. Guido will be keeping an eye on whether his careerism, or the people of Norfolk, comes first…

One Junior Minister who instinctively wants to rebel, but will not, said to Guido:

“If I have to resign over this principle how many sacrifices of other principle issues are made in doing so? Monday’s vote is one of frustration, I recognise that, but the revolt will lead to nothing except a loss of influence by those who resign. It’s a battle in which a few may gain notoriety, but it will come at the expense of others and runs the risk of destabilising the coalition when the country can least afford it. So an inconsequential though principled battle is fought but a war lost.”

That seems to some up the feeling of those staying loyal. Sentiments that would not have had to be aired publicly if Cameron had the integrity and balls to make this a free vote…

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