Backbench Tories are regrouping following the non-selection of the Brady Amendment, which by last week had picked up support from over 80 Tory MPs. Rebel commander Steve Baker is amassing freedom-minded Tories this afternoon to discuss plans on liberalising two measures a large swathe of the Parliamentary Party could support – ending the 10pm hospitality curfew and excluding children from the Rule of Six, as in Scotland where under 12s are exempt. There is a growing strength of feeling on these measures in particular….
Guido hears postbags have been full of complaints about the curfew – widely seen by the public as counterproductive and by businesses as unnecessarily crippling. Meanwhile, the success of the return of schools, which do not appear to have been large incubators for the virus (unlike universities) has buoyed Tory hopes on loosening measures for children. Baker explained the rebel thinking last night:
“Consensus among Conservative MPs seems to be around two points – that children should be excluded from the rule of six and that the 10pm curfew is not justified by evidence.
I wouldn’t expect to win a vote on either issue. The reality is we need to persuade the Government on all these matters. With Labour and the SNP missing in action we won’t be defeating the Government in any rebellions.”
While it’s true Labour and the SNP are offering no opposition whatsoever, Guido hears the number of Conservatives interested in the rebellion is large enough to give the Government a serious headache. Ordinarily-loyal MPs have privately complained to Guido about the stifling nature of the curfew in particular. The Brady amendment was not the end of of the increasingly restless back benches…