WHIPPED INTO SUBMISSION: Government whips are pretty feeling pleased with themselves after the outcome of last night’s vote on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which passed its second reading by 295 votes to 221 — a majority of 74.
Extraordinarily: Not a single Tory MP voted against it — not Theresa May, who said the bill was “not legal” and would “diminish the standing of the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world” … not Simon Hoare, who accused ministers of “playing fast and loose with our international reputation” and suggested this was all a “muscle flex for a future leadership bid” from Liz Truss … and not Andrew Mitchell, who said it “brazenly breaks a solemn international treaty.”
Instead … 72 Tory MPs abstained (including a number who will have been excused from voting). The abstainers include two former Northern Ireland secretaries — Julian Smith and Karen Bradley … two former attorneys general — Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright … as well as May, a former PM, and Hoare, who chairs the NI select committee. More from POLITICO’s Cristina Gallardo.
Behind the scenes: A Tory MP texted Playbook last night that the rebellion had been whittled down by “a combination of veiled threats about losing the whip, political honors being dangled and an ability for the government to dupe MPs by lying openly about quite a technical bill.” They added that some MPs are reluctant to fall out with Tory leadership contenders who will be in the market for Euroskeptics to promote to Cabinet if they make it to No. 10.
(London Politico Playbook)