MPs are still waiting to hear confirmation that Parliament is being recalled on Friday, although many have been told to expect a sitting to discuss military intervention against Isis. The chances are that it won’t be announced until the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has made a formal appeal for British involvement, and the Labour conference has finished, so that this cannot in any way be interpreted as a bit of politicking from a Conservative party keen to sabotage the Opposition’s gathering.
The whips have been phoning MPs this morning asking about their support for strikes on Isis in Iraq. But some have also been asking about attacks in Syria, too, which has led MPs to believe that the question before them on Friday will be about action in both countries. I’m told, though, that the official whip questions are only about Iraq and that it must be a ‘rogue’ who is adding any other ideas.
Whatever the questions, it is clear that the whips are being far more proactive than they were a year ago. One of the major failings in the Syria vote was that the government did not know what MPs were thinking, and made assumptions that they were supportive, when in reality the rebels were winning them over. An early attempt to get opinion, before the recall has even been set, means Number 10 has a real sense of how it will get a vote through the Commons.