Since the last General Election, 51 MPs have swapped parties and, for reasons of cowardice or stubborn arrogance, have refused to take the honourable path by resigning from the Commons and fighting a by-election under their new colours.
Indeed, we have witnessed the biggest number of MPs switch sides since the turmoil over Irish Home Rule in 1886. Some MPs, such as Chuka Umunna and Heidi Allen, have changed parties more than once.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that with so many MPs thus dodging voters, the majority in the Commons won’t accede to the Government’s wishes of having a general election.
MPs ought to have only one choice: Accept Boris Johnson’s EU exit deal or face voters in a general election and account for their failure to deliver Brexit
For the truth is that if they were honest with themselves, MPs ought to have only one choice: Accept Boris Johnson’s EU exit deal or face voters in a general election and account for their failure to deliver Brexit.
Typical is Anna Soubry, who quit the Tories for Change UK and has a majority of only 860 in her Broxtowe constituency. She expects to lose at the next election and thus wants to remain an MP as long as possible.
John Woodcock resigned from Labour last year in protest at the takeover ‘by the hard-Left’. With a majority of only 209, he’s unlikely to want an early election as it could signal the end of his political career. He’s only 41.
More from Andrew Pierce for the Daily Mail…
In Totnes, Sarah Wollaston left the Tories for Change UK, then joined the pro-EU Lib Dems. But her constituency voted 54 per cent to Leave. Her critics have accused her of hypocrisy given that, in 2011, she backed a motion urging all MPs who defect to submit themselves to a by-election.
Then there is Ian Austin who resigned from Labour in February over its failure to deal with anti-Semitism. He now sits as an Independent and has a majority of only 22 over the Tories in Dudley North. Few expect him to hold his seat.
Of the 21 Tory anti-No Deal MPs who had the Whip removed, at least ten plan to fight the next election. Fearing a backlash from voters, many are reluctant to face an election now.
Amber Rudd faces a similar dilemma. She resigned the Tory whip, claiming the PM was not serious about securing a new Brexit deal. She has a 346 majority in Hastings and Rye and her prospects look bleak.
The Government had hoped that more than a handful of Labour MPs might vote for Brexit to be achieved on October 31 as 61 per cent represent Leave-voting constituencies.
However, this hope ignores the fact that polls suggest 68 per cent of Labour voters supported Remain. Therefore, Labour MPs in Leave areas argue their first loyalty is to Labour voters rather than the constituency as a whole.
There is one group of MPs, though, desperate to have an election now rather than in 2022, as is stipulated under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act.
They are the Scottish Nationalists. They are riding high in the polls – at 39 per cent (with the Tories trailing at 21 and Labour on 20). If accurate and there was an election now, the SNP would gain 14 seats, with the Tories losing five and Labour six.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s combative leader at Westminster, has a cunning strategy. He wants Brussels to give Britain an EU membership extension until January 31 to enable an election to take place in the meantime.
The SNP has another reason for pressing for an early election. A trial is scheduled in January of Alex Salmond, the party’s former leader. He’s accused of two counts of attempted rape, among other allegations. Salmond has strenuously denied all the claims against him but the party fears the effect of any bad publicity.
As for the Lib Dems, since Jo Swinson became leader, the party has hardened its anti-Brexit stance from supporting a second referendum to wanting to revoke Article 50 – in other words, cancelling Brexit.
Realistically, the only way this could happen is if the Lib Dems get a parliamentary majority – and the only way of possibly achieving that pipedream is with a general election.
The SNP has another reason for pressing for an early election. A trial is scheduled in January of Alex Salmond, the party’s former leader. He’s accused of two counts of attempted rape, among other allegations. Salmond has strenuously denied all the claims against him but the party fears the effect of any bad publicity
All in all, a politically motivated and cowardly coalition of MPs are doing everything in their power to halt Brexit – and prevent a General Election
True, the Lib Dems have been buoyed by the defection of six MPs from Labour and the Tories taking their total to 18. But pollsters say the likelihood of a Lib Dem government is just 5 per cent. This is why, despite all their noisy rhetoric, Swinson and her Lib Dems are pushing hard for a second referendum as the best way to halt Brexit.
Also, rather than support Jeremy Corbyn as head of a caretaker government, the Lib Dems would prefer a vote of confidence in the Tories that might lead directly to an election.
All in all, a politically motivated and cowardly coalition of MPs are doing everything in their power to halt Brexit – and prevent a General Election.