Portland Quarterly

A little local difficulty

Trouble is brewing on the Tory backbenches as David Cameron lines up for perhaps the toughest year of this Parliament.

The PM needs distractions like a hole in the head as he prepares to fight the “hard yards” of 2012.

This will be the darkest period for the Coalition – when demands for an economic plan B reach their peak, the economy slows and the cuts bite.

His MPs are terrified of the boundary changes to be unveiled on Monday which could mean a P45 for around 20 of them.

And his new boys and girls are demanding an end to Britain’s membership of the EU.

Many more will be affected by the shuffle of wards but those in the north and, in particular, the north west will be worst hit.

Some are even contemplating walking out and triggering by-elections if they are informed on Monday their seat has been lined up for the chop.

Better to go and make a decent living in the private sector now than wait for three more years until the General Election and then get your marching orders, they say.

There could yet be a rebellion over the boundary changes which must be passed by Parliament by 2013.

The PM is also facing more trouble on the backbenches as the new intake – massively eurosceptic – organise themselves to fight for a UK withdrawal from Brussels.

Around 80 of the 148 new MPs from the 2010 election want a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, arguing it’s time to pull out altogether.

The remaining 60 are pretty convinced the PM should renegotiate the Treaties with Brussels come what may – to loosen our ties.

Many are smart movers, serious figures with good careers behind them who aren’t the usual lobby fodder.

The irony is that the PM is a natural eurosceptic himself – and right hand man Steve Hilton has reached boiling point with the red tape and laws from Brussels holding back our growth prospects.

So it’s not as if they disagree with their backbench colleagues.

But Mr Cameron believes it is vital to stay in the EU, build new strategic partnerships for Britain, and develop a new power block with Germany and France.

Either way, it could be an ugly backdrop to the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, less than a month away.

Written By

George Pascoe-Watson