Tory whips call for help as Theresa May holds her Chequers away day
And the teacher's pet award goes to... Conservative MP Simon Hoare.
As Cabinet members limbered up for Friday’s Chequers away day, the portents were not good.
Seven Brexit-backing ministers - including Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom - met at the Foreign Office on Thursday to consider their response to the Prime Minister’s latest customs wheeze, which proposes the softest possible Brexit that a) she thinks Parliament can swallow and b) Brussels might just about accept.
Downing Street sources rejected suggestions that the PM’s new plan - which would keep Britain in the single market for goods and maintain close alignment with EU regulations on food - would put the mockers on any trade deal with America, and that appeared to have been enough to peel Liam Fox away from the rebels.
Those attending the marathon pow-wow were ordered to hand over their phones and Apple watches on arrival to ensure zero contact with the outside world the end of proceedings.
In a desperate attempt to shore up the PM, deputy chief whip Chris Pincher also texted some MPs begging them to tweet their support for her.
One MP who didn’t get the message says: “I suspect they judge I’m with those who actually want to deliver Brexit, not her vision of it.”
“This is desperate stuff from Pincher,” says another.
Damien Moore was more on message. “Britain voted to leave the EU - TM is delivering on that result and the will of the people; we need a Party united to deliver a Brexit that works, not one divided by individual grandstanding,” tweeted the MP for Southport.
But North Dorset MP Simon Hoare appeared to be the only Tory MP following the instructions to the letter. He tweeted: “We need to unite behind @theresa_may and her vision of Brexit which will deliver on the referendum result AND be business friendly.”
Let’s hope his knighthood’s in the post….