The Tory whips are busy today, but not necessarily with fallout from the Clacton by-election. They have sent a message round to MPs saying the following:
‘There is a possibility that there will be a business statement on Monday which will also affect whipping next week.’
Some MPs have read this as a suggestion that they may be asked to vote on military action against Isis in Syria, which Number 10 has so far been reluctant to do. The Lib Dems have said they can’t see what benefit British troops would bring to the situation Syria.
But chances are that Monday’s statement will relate to another event that’s taken place while MPs were away. The Scottish referendum may feel a while ago, especially given that the party conferences only really discussed it in terms of the victory for the ‘No’ campaign.
MPs have not yet had the chance to debate the result. The plan now is to move the Recall Bill from Tuesday to the following week. The SNP’s Pete Wishart, in an attempt to hold David Cameron’s feet to the fire, is demanding that the Prime Minister lead the debate himself as part of his ‘vow’ to Scottish voters.
But MPs should also use the debate to reflect on how the Scottish referendum result got so close. The alarm of the final few weeks before the vote seems to have faded to an odd complacency.