The new intake of Tory MPS is proving to be surprisingly hard to manage. A veteran observer of the party says that he expected rebellions from Europhile MPS and ageing Brexiteers who have been muscled aside by Mr Cummings. But what has surprised him is the rebelliousness of Tories from the largely working-class “red seats” who were carried to the House of Commons on Mr Johnson’s coattails. These neophytes have not been inculcated with loyalty to the party by several failed runs for seats; some are local figures who do not have an eye on national office. They are unlikely to become more obedient as the unemployment numbers mount.
All this points to a future in which the Conservative Party stumbles from crisis to crisis. Tory rebellions will become part of the political landscape, just as they were under Theresa May. Climb-downs and u-turns will become routine. On June 16th the government reversed its opposition to providing poor children with free school meal vouchers over the summer in the face of a campaign mounted by Marcus Rashford, a 22-year-old footballer. With the exception of Brexit, on which it is likely to remain adamantine, Downing Street may even reverse itself on some big questions. Mr Johnson’s support for Huawei is beginning to soften under pressure from the newly formed China Research Group.
For a while it looked as if the new government had put an end to the era of political chaos that began four years ago with the referendum and consumed Theresa May’s premiership. Now, thanks to a pandemic that not even the most Eurosceptic MP can blame on the EU, another era of chaos has been unleashed and another Tory prime minister is condemned to years of agony.