Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Big catch for Tory reconciliation team as rebel gives up anti-Cameron fight

Mark Wallace has a fascinating post on ConHome reporting that Andrew Bridgen has written to the Prime Minister withdrawing his letter calling for a leadership contest. Bridgen, if you remember, is the only MP to publicly confirm that he has written a letter to 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady calling for a contest, and while he was flayed by the whips at the time, his letter stayed firmly in Brady’s desk drawer until this week.

One letter doesn’t make a happy party, of course, but that it is Bridgen who has withdrawn the letter is significant. As I mentioned last week when covering his latest HS2 mischief, this is an MP who knows how to corral colleagues into troublesome rebellions. He has been renowned in the Conservative party as a Cameron-hater whose troublemaking activities are as much personal as they are about principle. He could have caused the Prime Minister a great deal more trouble, too, had he been left to wander further into the wilderness.

I understand that there has been a significant effort to bring Bridgen back into the fold in the last few months, with key Number 10 figures working to understand what it is that the Conservative MP wants, rather than dismissing his ideas out of hand. That the government eventually agreed to Bridgen’s proposals on the BBC licence fee was a sign that the Tory leadership has realised that not every suggestion from a backbench rebel is automatically without foundation or wisdom.

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