At the end of last year, Mr Steerpike was somewhat sceptical that it was a good idea to invite an ITV film crew into the whips’ office, as Theresa May headed for a defeat of historic proportions on the first vote on her Brexit deal. When Chief Whip Julian Smith failed to convince the backbencher Philip Davies to back the deal, live on camera, this only seemed to confirm that it wasn’t exactly the best decision:
ITV News was granted rare access to the Chief Whip’s office, as he tries to rally support for the PM’s Brexit deal ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
We caught the argument as vocal Brexiteer Philip Davies insisted he was voting ‘no’ https://t.co/KHDQTdnQtA pic.twitter.com/MJjE7vdaXb
— ITV News (@itvnews) December 6, 2018
Perhaps an apology is in order though. Mr S can report that although Davies did not back May’s deal first time round, last night he was finally won over and supported the Prime Minister in the voting lobby.
Clearly the Chief Whip was playing the long game after all. Although, Mr S isn’t sure the strategy scales well: at a conversion rate of 43 Tory rebels per vote, Theresa May will need at least two more meaningful votes before she finally achieves Conservative unity.
Still, after a disastrous couple of months, Mr S imagines the government will be grateful for any victory, no matter how small.