Analysis of Conservative MPs across the North of England shows that more will vote to leave the EU than stay, with Yorkshire backbenchers emphatically against staying.
At the time of writing, according to the ConservativeHome website, there are 149 Tory MPs for Remain, and 124 for Leave.
There has been some analysis of trends amongst those on the ‘payroll’ (Ministers, whips and Parliamentary Private Secretaries) and backbenchers. This shows, not surprisingly given that they have careers, that payroll MPs are heavily in favour of staying in the EU (84 for remain, 30 to leave) whereas more backbenchers, many of whom have given up any hope of a career, want to leave (65 for remain, 94 to leave).
There has also been some limited analysis according to the year of intake showing that the more recently an MP was elected, the more likely they are to be for Remain; again possibly reflecting their aspirations.
Looking at a regional breakdown, analysis shows that unlike the parliamentary party as a whole, more Conservative MPs in the North of England (Yorkshire and North Lincs, North West and North East) support leaving than staying: of the 44 Conservative MPs across the North, 15 want to stay in the EU and 16 want to come out, with 13 yet to declare their stance.
Within this cohort, 19 out of the 44 hold a government position, which at 43% is quite a bit higher than the proportion across the country as a whole with the overall payroll vote accounting for 35% of the Parliamentary party. Is that because Northerners are more able (obviously), or more thrusting (probably that as well)? This makes it all the more surprising that more Northern MPs are for out.
Within the Northern contingent of the payroll, of those that have declared, 12 are for remaining in while just 2 are for leaving and 5 have yet to say. There are no surprises there, but this means that the Northern backbenchers, with 14 being for out and only 3 for in, are a very anti-EU bunch, much more so than the backbenchers as a whole.
The figures are even starker for Yorkshire and North Lincs with only one solitary MP not on the payroll being in favour of Remain, and 8 against him in favour of Leave.
Is it because in Yorkshire they live up (or down) to the stereotype of thinking that nothing good ever comes out of anywhere other than God’s Own County, never mind ‘abroad’? Or is it that as true Tykes they are less likely to accept being told what to do, even by their Prime Minister?
*= Member of the ‘payroll’
Remain (1): Guy Opperman – Hexham*
Leave (2): Anne-Marie Trevelyan – Berwick-upon-Tweed; James Wharton – Stockton South*
Remain (8): Jake Berry – Rossendale and Darwen*; Graham Evans – Weaver Vale*; David Morris – Morecombe and Lunesdale*; David Mowat – Warrington South; George Osborne – Tatton*; Antoinette Sandbach – Eddisbury; Edward Timpson – Crewe and Nantwich *; Ben Wallace – Wyre and Preston North*.
Leave (5): Graham Brady – Altrincham and Sale West; Fiona Bruce – Congleton; Nigel Evans – Ribble Valley; David Nuttall – Bury North; William Wragg – Hazel Grove.
Undeclared (8): Chris Green – Bolton West; Seema Kennedy – South Ribble; Paul Maynard – Blackpool North and Cleveleys*; Mark Menzies – Flyde; Mary Robinson – Cheadle; David Rutley – Macclesfield*; John Stevenson – Carlisle; Rory Stewart – Penrith and the Border*.
Yorkshire & North Lincs
Remain (6): Kevin Hollinrake – Thirsk and Malton; Kris Hopkins – Keighley*; Andrew Jones – Harrogate and Knaresborough*; Alec Shelbrooke – Elmet and Rothwell*; Julian Smith – Skipton and Ripon*; Craig Whittaker – Calder Valley*.
Leave (8): Nigel Adams – Selby and Ainsty; Philip Davies – Shipley; David Davis – Haltemprice and Howden; Andrea Jenkyns – Morley and Outwood; Greg Knight – Yorkshire East; Jason McCartney – Colne Valley; Andrew Percy – Brigg and Goole; Martin Vickers – Cleethorpes.
Undeclared (5): Stuart Andrew – Pudsey*; Robert Goodwill – Scarborough and Whitby*; Graham Stuart – Beverley and Holderness; Julian Sturdy – York Outer; Rishi Sunak – Richmond.
2015 was one of the most eventful years in recent political memory. With a series of elections and a referendum on the horizon, PAC has picked out five things to look out for this year.
The Corbyn Effect
Jeremy Corbyn has the worst satisfaction ratings of any new Labour leader. In fact he is the first ever leader to score a net negative satisfaction rating.
Despite the negativity, Team Corbyn were buoyed by the Oldham by-election result in December which saw Labour easily see off the UKIP threat. Those hoping for his demise (a large part of the Parliamentary party) are looking to the May elections as their first real chance to unseat Corbyn.
Normally local elections go against the Government of the day and these are unlikely to be any different. Voters will ignore the Corbyn factor as he is not on the ballot paper and are likely to stick to the usual pattern of voting on local issues and generally against the Government.
All the polls point to a win by Sadiq Khan in London who is distancing himself from Corbyn. Although, given that Corbyn is more popular in London than anywhere else in the country, Khan will benefit from garnering both pro and anti Corbyn voters.
After the general election result, a majority for the SNP in Scotland is already discounted so sparing Corbyn the blame, although it might just be a bit uncomfortable if Labour’s share of the vote comes in behind the Conservatives.
Narrowing polls in Wales show that it is unlikely that Labour will be able to form a majority government. An alternative that has been suggested by the Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is a “rainbow coalition” of the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, albeit this seems unlikely. How much Corbyn gets the blame if Labour’s vote slumps or whether this is blamed on a mixed record from the current administration is difficult to say.
All in all, Corbyn has not much to fear and with no leader for the anti Corbyn movement to unite around having emerged, he is pretty secure for this year at least.
David Cameron’s decision to suspend ministerial responsibility to allow his cabinet to campaign for Brexit echoes the decision made by Harold Wilson the last time there was a referendum.
Now expected in the summer, subject to an agreement in February, all the polls show that most people would vote to remain in the EU if the Prime Minister can secure change. With most leading politicians and business people supporting staying in, the fear factor applying and the innate conservativism of the British people, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of the vote going against staying in.
The Next Prime Minister
The Conservative leadership race is already underway with MPs being sent cuddly texts, invited to drinks parties and being congratulated on blowing their nose very eloquently by the contenders. It will continue to gather momentum this year, especially after the EU referendum. Some have counted as many as 11 possibles and the race is wide open. Osborne is by no means certain to win and neither is Boris, for different reasons. The prevailing thought is that it is likely to be someone not currently being seriously considered. Look out for Stephen Crabb, the bearded Welsh Secretary, whose name is being bandied around by Tory MPs. The last Tory leader with full facial hair was Lord Salisbury in 1902.
UKIP a Busted Flush
Fast running out of money and possibly about to lose its only MP, 2016 could mark the turn the tide for UKIP. Trounced in the Oldham by-election, although the 25% Asian vote and a popular Labour candidate didn’t help, the Party turned in on itself with hostilities breaking out between Douglas Carswell MP and Nigel Farage.
With the party executive united behind its Leader and somewhat sceptical of Carswell’s true allegiance to UKIP, it is possible that their only MP will leave the party and sit as an Independent. The latest posters he has printed for his office show no UKIP affiliation, maybe he has either seen the writing on the wall or his resignation letter is in the post.
UKIP’s salvation may come from disillusioned, traditional (non-croissant eating) Labour voters, especially in the North.
Yorkshire Devolution Deal
With just two months until the Budget deadline, the Chancellor will be hoping to secure a deal in Yorkshire.
The argument is still mainly between the Greater Yorkshire (all of the region apart from South Yorkshire) and Leeds City Region camps. It has become more muddied of late with the emergence of the possibility of Hull throwing its lot in with the LCR bid and business in Hull calling for a Hull/East Yorkshire separate devolved body. This is not popular with East Yorkshire which wants to go with North Yorkshire in the case of the LCR bid going through. Ferrets and sacks come to mind