In the Commons this morning, William Hague confirmed Coffee House’s story that the government will hold its vote on opting back into the European Arrest Warrant on Monday. He said the joint committee working on the relevant statutory instrument hadn’t finished working, but that the House of Commons would vote on it on Monday.
But the troublesome pre-Rochester rebellion is apparently shrinking, MPs tell me. Those on both sides expect only around 30 rebels against the government now, where previously up to 100 had been expected.
There are a number of reasons for the fall in numbers. The first and least significant is that holding it before the Rochester by-election does stop an angry free-for-all after a loss in that seat where backbenchers use a revolt to express their anger that the Tories were unable to hold a constituency not considered particularly Ukip-friendly. But given the loss is already being priced in, there is very little incentive to remain loyal to help the Rochester campaign. The second reason is that backbenchers have concluded that given the measure will pass on the strength of Lib Dem, Labour and Tory payroll votes (slips which give MPs permission to miss votes have been refused for ministers), there is little point in them voting against the government anyway. And thirdly, Theresa May has worked hard to convince colleagues that the government has already secured significant changes to the arrest warrant which means the government is opting back in to a measure that bears little resemblance to the one Tory backbenchers disliked so much.
May has had a torrid few weeks, but if the rebellion does turn out to contain just a hardcore of irreconcilables numbering around 30, she could count Monday’s vote as a sign that she holds sway over Tory backbenchers who tend not to like being told what to do.