After the chaos in the voting lobbies two weeks ago, when ministers claimed to not know they’d rebelled against the government, the Conservative whips were taking no chances ahead of yesterday’s crunch vote. MPs were warned early on which motions they should support, and as soon as Oliver Letwin’s amendment was passed, a quick-fire email whipped round reminding Tories of their responsibilities.
But even if the whips were on top of things this time, it appears that some MPs were still struggling to keep up. When it came to the vote on Letwin’s amendment, it seems that backbencher Ed Vaizey intended to rebel against the government, but accidentally went through the wrong voting lobby and ended up supporting their motion anyway.
No doubt surprised to find himself suddenly surrounded by so many of his Tory colleagues, Vaizey quickly twigged that he’d made a mistake and scarpered through the other side of the lobby — resulting in a positive abstention and his vote not counting.
On the second vote, he then went on to vote for Letwin’s amendment as he originally intended, though not before confusing everybody trying to keep track of his voting habits.
Clearly hoping to clear things up, the former culture minister helpfully clarified this morning where he stood by retweeting this praise of his decision to (eventually) back the Letwin amendment:
Inspiring stuff from the MPs who are meant to be taking control of the government on Wednesday…