With second reading of the EU withdrawal bill coming this week, there’s a lot of speculation about Tory rebels and what amendments might be able to command a majority at committee stage. But there won’t just be rebels on the Tory side. There will be some Labour MPs who will be prepared to defy the party whip in the interests of getting the bill through without any changes.
These Labour rebels could be crucial. For every Labour rebel, will cancel out a Tory one. It doesn’t matter if Anna Soubry votes against the government, if Kate Hoey votes with it.
One minister closely involved with the bill told me last week that the government needs to be ‘prising out the concerned Labour Brexiteers’ over the next few weeks. The minister predicts that the government will ‘end up relying on 20 of theirs, to offset 4 or 5 of ours’.