We can first dismiss the so-called ‘Cabinet Brexiteers’. They deserve little but our eternal contempt. Once Boris Johnson, David Davis and Steve Baker had resigned in the wake of the Chequers Summit, their ‘We will stay in the Cabinet and continue to press the Prime Minister to change her approach from inside’ position looked increasingly unconvincing and self-serving. Once Dominic Raab and Esther McVey had resigned rather than support May’s Orwellian-labelled ‘Withdrawal’ Agreement it became almost comically untenable.
Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove appear to have maintained their implausible positions only up to the point when, forced to choose between upholding democracy and their manifesto pledges, or retaining the trappings and rewards of Ministerial/Cabinet office, they seem to have chosen the latter, suddenly becoming converts to May’s BRINO-Deal with attempted justifications, not excluding warnings that rejection may mean Brexit not actually happening at all, which are wholly unpersuasive.
The supposed submitters of the necessary 48 Letters of No Confidence in May’s leadership to the 1922 Committee have not been much better. There was a seeming naivety on the part of their de facto leader Jacob Rees-Mogg in taking at face value their assurances that their own letters had been submitted, when in fact they had not.
Some senior staunch Brexiteers, notably Iain Duncan Smith, Bernard Jenkin and Owen Paterson, appeared not to join their ranks at all. The ‘revolt’ collapsed in a welter of recriminations, doing nothing to suggest this was, or is likely to be, an effective route to stopping Parliamentary approval of May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Indeed, rumours circulate of knighthoods and peerages dangled as inducements to support May.
The younger, more recent, more committed to Brexit intake of Tory MPs, however, give more grounds for hope. Just to take three at random, the personal statements of opposition to May’s BRINO-Deal and pledges to vote against it from MPs Julia Lopez, Suella Braverman and Lucy Allan are impressive.