Theresa May is under huge and mounting pressure to sack Chief Whip Julian Smith and Tory Chair Brandon Lewis.
Smith has been exposed pressuring Tory MPs to break their ‘pairing’ agreements with absent MPs, particularly those on maternity leave, such as LibDem MP Jo Swinson and Labour’s Laura Pidcock, in order to win an extremely tight vote earlier this week that many think would have ended Theresa May’s premiership if the Tories had lost it.
Swinson, who is currently on maternity leave, complained publicly that Lewis broke his agreement to ‘pair’ with her – a convention in which absent MPs agree with an opposing MP not to vote, so that the effect of an unavoidable absence is cancelled out. The vote has been called a ‘betrayal of women’ by the Tory party.
Lewis claimed it might have been inadvertent, which is now known to be false – but May herself is again coming under increasing pressure, having told MPs during yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions that his vote had been an unintentional breach of his agreement with Swinson.
Labour Chair Ian Lavery said of the pair:
The Tories’ story is changing by the minute as they desperately scramble to cover up their appalling actions. This Government is rotten to its core. Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis must now resign or be sacked, and Theresa May must apologise for misleading the House.
If Smith and Lewis do not resign over their craven and blatant bad faith, May must sack them to save herself.
Even that is not enough to cover her own complicity through her PMQs dishonesty, even if she didn’t know in advance that the agreements would be broken, which is highly unlikely.
Lewis was apparently not the only Tory MP to Smith pressured to break their ‘pairing’ in order to cheat the customs vote – but he was the only one without the integrity to refuse.
Lewis is the face of the Tory ‘respect pledge’. Right…
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.