As we revealed on Twitter earlier, David Cameron and the Tory payroll vote will abstain on Dominic Raab’s amendment. Downing Street’s logic is that they are sympathetic to the amendment’s aims but believe it to be non-compliant, eg not compatible with the law, and so are barred from voting for it by the ministerial code. But the Liberal Democrats will vote against the amendment, which is another sign of how the two coalition parties are now merely cohabiting .
Inside Downing Street, they hope that this position will prevent a split in the Tory ranks and I suspect that this will help the whips persuade a few more MPs not to vote for the Mills amendment.
But the danger is that this concession encourages Tory MPs to back amendments in the hope of changing the government’s mind. I also suspect that there’ll be a few backbenchers looking enviously at the status that this effort has given Dominic Raab and wondering how they can emulate him.
However, the Mills amendment’s loss of momentum and Douglas Carswell announcing that he’s done with rebelling does suggest that the Tory party might just be beginning to move back into line ahead of the election campaign. One of the rebels organising for the Mills amendment conceded to me yesterday that the recent good economic news and the narrowing in the polls has made it harder to persuade Tory MPs to vote against the government.