Clearly, Brown is in an invidious position – it is conceivable that Labour will lose these by-elections in any event, but Brown would be committing very protracted and very painful electoral suicide if he demanded that Sir Thomas retract his demands. Brown is indecisive when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing in his favour, so God knows what agonies the Hamlet of Kirkcaldy is wrestling with at the moment, and I suspect most of us would have died of old age if the refuseniks were not going to make the decision for him.
Also, Paul Waugh reports that MPs are describing Harriet Harman’s leadership on repayments as “all over the place”, and I agree with James' impression that her lack of leadership was made evident by her performance on Straight Talk. The danger of MPs not knowing the consequences of refusing to meet repayments is that the more desperate among them will try their luck. There is no telling when and where the expenses saga will end, but my guess is a combination of a general election and court action.