The Orpington Conservative Association’s Political Forum met the week before last and local Tory MP Jo Johnson was in attendance. The purpose was to discuss the Withdrawal Agreement. Local constituency meetings are not something that Guido would normally report on, however it is worth looking at this to get an insight into what Tory MPs are hearing in their constituencies and the pressure they are under over the vote. This is from a minute of the meeting:
Sixty email responses from members unable to attend the meeting, together with fifty members present have given us a very clear message to convey to Theresa May’s government. As before, we gave an opportunity to vote on a number of positions: 87% were against the WA and did not see it as a good deal for Britain 78% were opposed to the continuing leadership of Theresa May. 63% supported our MP Jo Johnson in his resignation, and those that did not largely gave as their reason Jo’s call for a 2. referendum. 86% were opposed to a second referendum 90% were in favour of leaving under WTO rules (no deal). And notably for an MP that has preferred remain and an association that stongly supports leave: 98% agreed with Jo Johnson’s description of the deal which can be summarised as the worst of all worlds and a historic failure.
Given these figures it is hard to credit the govemment’s claim that associations support Theresa May’s deal in contrast to the many back bench MPs that have stated their opposition. From our contacts with other associations we know that Orpington Association is not alone in its views.
A stunning three-quarters of Jo Johnson’s local members were “opposed to the continuing leadership of Theresa May” with nearly nine out of ten opposed to the May’s Withdrawal Agreement. According to ever useful ConservativeHome polling, about a third of Tory members support a WTO terms “no deal” and another third a Canada-style deal. This is the position across the Conservative Party back in MPs’ constituencies. It is hard to see how if May loses the vote next week Tory MPs will not be under pressure from their members to trigger a leadership vote…