Steerpike

The revenge of the Mayites

The revenge of the Mayites
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Mr S has been keeping a close watch on the number of mounting Plan B rebels these past few days and is delighted to see the numbers totting up to more than 80 at the time of writing. But one thing that did catch Steerpike's eye was the number of onetime Mayites who look set to vote against Boris Johnson's Covid plan. For the list of mounting rebels includes both May's former de facto deputy Damian Green and her ex-PPS Andrew Bowie, who last month quit his post as Tory vice chair. Other names include longtime ministers in her government Harriet Baldwin, Greg Clark and Robert Goodwill. 

All this just two days after a flurry of briefings in the Sundays about the dancing queen of Maidenhead. The Mail on Sunday roared that 'Team May plots revenge on Boris'; the Sunday Times cited claims that 'close allies of Theresa May' could submit letters of no confidence in the PM if the Tories lose the North Shropshire by-election on Thursday. Fascinating stuff, but how much of this perceived enmity is part of a confected melodrama? May and her supposed influence appear to serve the function of the exiled Snowball in Animal Farm, used by the incumbent regime as a spectre of the old, an emblem of disloyalty pour encourager les autres

For as the Sunday Times noted, it was indeed allies of Johnson himself who were playing up talk of a so-called 'Operation Revenge' by the former premier against her successor. As one MP notes drily: 'You see her alone in the chamber a lot – she barely has any allies.' The far more worrying truth for No. 10 may be that the aforementioned clutch of Tories are simply part of a much bigger group growing increasingly skeptical of the current PM's stop-start approach to Covid. Some rebels may be more Mayite than Johnsonite but as the roll call of 2019-ers makes clear – Davison, Kearns, Vickers, Wakeford, Anderson etc – it's not just the dispossessed who feel this way.

Let's hope, for Johnson's sake, he doesn't join May in knowing what it feels like to be the on the wrong end of a coup anytime soon.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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