David Cameron’s modernisation drive has certainly not been universally well received amongst his party. In particular, many longer-serving backbench right-wingers clearly remain unenthusiastic about the more centrist Cameroon approach. However, perhaps more concerning for Cameron, there is now an increasingly vocal group of 2010 intake MPs who now also seem willing to openly question Government policy. This fact was clearly illustrated this week by two letters signed by over 100 Conservative MPs questioning his party’s position on the Environment and Europe. If this trend continues and the 2010 intake rebels continue to find common ground with Cameron’s more traditional right-wing critics, things can seemingly only get more troublesome for a leader who has already presided over one of the most fractious parliaments of all time. Below I look at some of the faces who may begin to increasingly influential as leaders of Cameron’s awkward squad.
The Old-school Rebels
Despite Cameron having worked since 2005 to ‘detoxify’ the Conservative brand, there were always going to be some of the longer-serving MPs in the party whose strong social conservative views would remain at odds with the new direction. The following individuals are never too shy to voice their strong views in parliament:
• Christopher Chope MP, a prolific user of private members bills, having already taken aim at minimum wage legislation, the EU, various employment rights and health and safety legislation this Parliament.
• Peter Bone MP has been heavily involved in efforts to force a referendum on membership of the EU, and is currently sponsoring a bill to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
• Philip Hollobone MP is the most rebellious MP this Parliament according to the public whip website. He is strongly in favour of Britain leaving the EU, and led a controversial campaign to ban the burka in 2010.
• David Davis MP, once a strongly tipped for a ministerial post under Cameron, however he has since established himself as one of the most vociferous critics of the Government on issues such as tuition fees, capital gains tax, and penal reform.
The 2010 Intake Rebels
Cameron had famously told his party ‘to stop banging on about Europe’ when he became leader, and yet it was the EU rebellion in October last year that has undoubtedly been the most high-profile rebellion in this Parliament to date. Increasingly active rebels from the 2010 intake include:
• David Nuttall MP has been one of the Conservatives’ most rebellious MPs in this parliament. He handed Cameron a petition for the in/out referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU after he got 100,000 signatures calling for it.
• Priti Patel MP was on the “A-List” of Cameron’s preferred candidates, however her strong support for a withdrawal from Europe, and her vocal support for the reinstatement of the death penalty have quickly seen her fall off the more centrist Cameroon radar.
• Chris Heaton-Harris MP and Charlie Elphicke MP have announced themselves as two of the latest Conservative backbench MPs unhappy with elements of the Cameroon approach this week. Heaton-Harris’s letter to David Cameron regarding wind farms signed by over 100 MPs represents a major revolt to the Government’s policy. Similarly, Elphicke’s letter was signed by 102 Tory MPs and argues that Cameron should take back control of more than 100 laws on crime and policing from the European Union.