Oh dear. It seems the whips failed to assuage Charles Walker, vice chair of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives. The well-respected Brexiteer told of his frustration over Covid restrictions, as well as his concern over the controversial Internal Market Bill. And Walker certainly didn’t pull his punches. He clearly wanted to send a message when he told the chamber: ‘If you keep whacking a dog, don’t be surprised when it bites you back.’
This shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to Downing Street. Just a fortnight ago, the normally loyal Walker told the Observer that it was becoming increasingly difficult for MPs to defend the government, warning of ‘eroded morale’ among backbenchers. To get a sense of just how eroded that morale has become, here’s his rather lively statement in full:
I hope I’m not going to foul-tempered tonight. It’s not a disposition I warm to. But Mr Deputy Speaker, there is a worrying trend – a worrying narrative emerging – and this is a good opportunity to get a lot of things on the record as I build an argument over the next two minutes, 45 seconds. First of all, I am extremely concerned that we are placing severe restrictions on people’s liberties without any recourse to parliament. I would actually vote in certain circumstances to take people’s liberties away if I thought it was in the national interest. But I would like to have the chance to debate it on the floor of the House, to represent the concerns of my constituents.I’m also concerned that we go around arresting old men in Trafalgar Square for having a peaceful protest and fining them £10,000. I never thought I would ever be defending Mr Corbyn in the chamber of the House of Commons. But I am – I am defending a Corbyn.