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 Monday 18 February 2019

The Labour Party lost seven MPs today in a widely anticipated move by the extreme end of the Party’s anti-Brexit contingent, who themselves are accusing Jeremy Corbyn and his entourage of being extremists. Both sides are correct of course. John McDonnell performed Sunday’s media rounds, doing his utmost to quell rumours of a split by furthering the prospect of a People’s Vote delusional Remainers see as their divine right. McDonnell later conceded defeat, projecting only a few MPs would leave.

At a 10 AM press conference Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker all announced their decision to leave and form an independent group of MPs, several more than McDonnell predicted. In his speech, Umunna invited MPs from other parties to join them.

Naturally, the breakaway has drawn comparisons with Roy Jenkins and his “gang of four”. Much like this group of seven, Jenkins was an ardent Europhile, having previously been President of the European Commission. But with an early general election more likely than not, the modern-day equivalent will struggle to build enough momentum to sustain their project. Lest we forget, the SDP had time to bed in, eventually acquiring 35 MPs, but their legacy barely lives on in the DNA of the dwindling Liberal Democrats. Furthermore, back then, British voters were contemplating a Common Market, not European Political Union nor did they have a resounding referendum result invalidating their cause, the opposite in fact. They will surely fail.

Having cancelled recess, which was supposed to be this week, Theresa May has not filled the parliamentary agenda. MPs remain in Westminster, with little to do other than announce their departure plans or fret about their own futures – According to the Mail, 100 Labour MPs will be put up for deselection, 25 will lose.

Deselection fears are by no means an opposition affair, following Leave.EU’s campaign to encourage grassroots Conservative members to pass no-confidence motions in their anti-Brexit MPs, many from the other side are also in trouble.

The Telegraph reports Sir Alan Duncan and Sarah Wollaston are facing no-confidence motions. In Wollaston’s case, the motion will be added to the order of business at the Totnes Conservatives’ AGM next month. A petition containing more than the threshold 50 signatures for the motion will be delivered to the local party Chairman today, making way for the motion – normally the petition is used to call a special meeting with a single motion of no confidence.

Dr Wollaston is accused of having “reneged on the clear and unambiguous Conservative manifesto pledge to leave the EU: a manifesto on which she was elected,” in the header to the petition letter, and not respecting the result of the 2016 EU referendum by backing a second vote.

“We are calling for this vote of no-confidence in Dr Wollaston because we feel she is playing fast and loose with our constitutional arrangements and making a nonsense of the democratic process simply because she didn’t like the result of the first Referendum,” said local activist, Rupert Hanmer Grant.

Wollaston’s seat includes the fishing town of Brixham. A deselection campaign against her was inevitable following persistent attempts to derail Brexit. Fellow conspirators Dominic Grieve, Nick Boles and Heidi Allen are also facing the boot.

As a member of the government, Alan Duncan has been less obstructionist, although highly outspoken. The revolt among Tory activists in his consistency indicates many more are to come.

Keep ’em coming we say.