It might mean little to people outside Westminster, but the decision of Mark Pritchard not to stand for re-election to his job as Secretary of the 1922 Committee is a significant moment. It suggests that the Cameroons might be making some progress in their attempt to gain control of the internal structures of the parliamentary party.
Pritchard has been a thorn in Number 10’s side ever since he started warning against the ‘Purple Plotters’ who wanted to merge the two coalition parties back in January of last year. Since then, his positions on circus animals, his role in the rebellion of the 81 and his general willingness to speak out against the government have driven Cameroons into a rage.
When the 301 group of leadership loyalist backbenchers was founded, Pritchard was quickly identified as someone they would try and defeat in the coming ’22 elections. His decision not to run again is seen by Tory MPs as evidence of the perceived voting strength of this group. It’ll be fascinating to see what two of their other rumoured targets, Christopher Chope and Brian Binley, do now.
It is, though, worth noting that the 301 group isn’t planning to challenge the chairman of the ’22, Graham Brady. Brady, who resigned from the frontbench over grammar schools and was part of the EU referendum rebellion, is regarded as too strong to take on. Indeed, the Cameroons remain painfully aware of how their first attempt to deny Brady the job by changing the rules to let ministers vote achieved nothing apart from harming relations between the leadership and its backbenchers.