Ian Paisley of the DUP could become the first MP to lose his seat under the Recall Act, after being suspended from the House of Commons for failing to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
Under this relatively new law, if 10% of eligible voters in the constituency sign a petition, he will lose the seat and a new by-election will be triggered.
The money in Betfair’s market on the petition has been one-sided, with another by-election now rated a [1.16] chance, in from [1.25]. Given the polarised nature of Northern Irish politics, that looks a pretty safe bet but his party will eventually likely retain the seat is far from clear. Paisley will be free to stand again and has a huge majority above 20,000.
Grassroots activists are increasingly energised
Nevertheless, Paisley’s troubles are a timely reminder to MPs and the entire political class of just how insecure they have suddenly become. Two veteran Labour MPs – Frank Field and Kate Hoey – recently lost confidence motions from their local parties. Many believe they will be the first of many deselections as the party’s civil war threatens to escalate.
The Tories are no more secure. Deep ideological divisions over Brexit and the emerging culture wars arguably make them the party most vulnerable to collapse over the long-term. Remainer MPs such as Anna Soubry, Philip Lee and Dominic Grieve are all under constant fire from the grassroots, which will likely escalate as the watered-down Brexit deal (or not) emerges.
Notably the latter was unequivocal in his condemnation of <strong>Boris Johnson</strong> over his Burqa comments, claiming he would quit the party if the former Foreign Secretary became leader. Another relatively moderate MP, Heidi Allen, has said the same of Jacob Rees Mogg.
uch words ware music to the ears of those clamouring for a new ‘centrist’ party – thus far, the preserve of Labour MPs dismayed at the party’s left-turn. A decade of re-alignment has transformed both main parties, leaving an ever rising number of voters claiming to be ‘politically homeless’. Could an alliance of their two more centrist wings provide them shelter?