By Guido’s count there are 18 Tory MPs who have yet to declare their positions on the referendum. Cameron has been schmoozing the undecideds with attempts at banter, “man hugs” in Commons corridors and one-on-one private persuasion sessions in his office. Though the PM was left disappointed after wrongly assuming several such backbenchers would be backing Remain. In one private meeting Dave told Geoffrey Clifton-Brown he hoped he could count on his support, believing he had won him round. Tempers frayed when the veteran Eurosceptic replied that he would be voting to Leave. Talk of a full-blown slanging match is played down, though Clifton-Brown “gave as good as he got” in the tetchy exchange that ensued before he swiftly exited.
Over Easter weekend the Tory civil war became less civil when Downing Street insiders told Dan Hodges that “trying to negotiate with the Eurosceptics is like trying to negotiate with IS”. Tory Outers are particularly unimpressed with one senior Cabinet minister after he was overheard loudly mocking them as “the goggle-eyed John Redwood brigade”.
The 18 Tory MPs yet to declare are:
Caroline Ansell, Tracey Crouch, Jackie Doyle-Price, James Heappey, George Hollingberry, Pauline Latham, Phillip Lee, Charlotte Leslie, Johnny Mercer, Huw Merriman, Andrew Mitchell, Wendy Morton, Caroline Nokes, Jesse Norman, Rebecca Pow, Mary Robinson, Grant Shapps, Kelly Tolhurst
Get in touch if any of these have been quietly coaxed off the fence…