It seems Boris’s 80 seat majority has caused both Parliament and MPs to become rusty when organising rebellions. The record Covid passport rebellion on Tuesday night saw major difficulties in actually tallying how many Tory MPs had broken the whip. Initially there was confusion as the Labour whips said there were 101 Tory rebels, yet the official count tallied just 96 plus two tellers. Steve Baker went on a hunt for the missing characters, eventually turning them up as Desmond Swayne, Bob Seely and Pauline Latham, all three of whom have now been added to the official 101 rebellion vote count. Guido, however, has discovered number 102…
Yesterday Steerpike noticed a remarkable u-turn from Southampton Itchin MP Royston Smith. On Monday he tweeted of Covid passports:
As for covid passports, I have never supported them and still don’t but I do support individual premise owner’s right to manage their establishments as they wish. https://t.co/NsuaILImla— Royston Smith MP (@Royston_Smith) December 13, 2021
When push came to shove, however, he found himself in the ‘aye’ voting lobby, as the government whips had wanted. His social media’s been conspicuously quiet since the vote.
Guido’s since seen an email sent from Royston to a constituent claiming that, thanks to some procedural confusion, while he had planned on rebelling he found himself accidentally in the wrong voting lobby:
“Last night, there were to be four votes. I was supporting three but not the Covid Passports.
Vote number two was to change the rules from quarantine, for those in contact with a positive Covid case, to daily Lateral Flow Tests. Unbeknown to me there was unanimity on that measure and the House did not divide (vote). I was coming from another meeting and went into the Government lobby thinking I was voting for tests not quarantine (vote number two) and didn’t discover until afterwards that I was actually in the Government lobby voting for Covid Passports (vote number three).”
Smith confides that, while he understands and acknowledges “the disappointment you will feel… I can, with certainty, tell you it is nothing compared to the disappointment I feel in myself.” Another backbencher off Boris’s Christmas card list…