Some Conservative MPs blame Mark Spencer, the chief whip, for this week’s disaster. Others blame the prime minister. In other words, they all blame Boris Johnson.
Complaining about the chief whip is a way of complaining about the party leader while pretending to be loyal. In Tudor and Stuart times, the monarch’s loyal subjects would suggest that the Crown was receiving bad advice – and that this or that royal adviser should go. What they meant was that the king or queen had got it wrong, and a U-turn was in order.
After the prime minister asked them to vote for the indefensible on Wednesday, only to admit his mistake on Thursday morning, Conservative MPs are in a state of ferment.
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