- Conservative MPs forced to change their plans after the government mistakenly led them to expect a major Brexit vote this week.
- A note sent out by government whips falsely made them prepare for a crucial vote on Thursday.
- However, Downing Street later claimed the note was an “admin error.”
- Conservative MPs suspect the government actually changed their plans.
- “It’s a total f******* mess,” one Tory source tells Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
LONDON – Conservative MPs were left confused and frustrated on Monday afternoon after a claimed “admin error” by Theresa May’s team, wrongly led them to expect an important Brexit vote on Thursday.
Julian Smith, the government’s chief whip, originally told Conservative MPs not to expect any important votes this week.
However, a new note sent out to MPs on Monday suggested that there would in fact be a “three-line whip” on Thursday, meaning they all must change their plans and be in Westminster for votes.
A three-line whip indicates that the government is preparing to hold a vote on a crucial piece of legislation – such as the government’s planned Brexit legislation.
However, the whips office later informed Tory MPs that this was in fact an “admin error”, and there would be actually be a one-line whip on Thursday, meaning they would not be expected to be in Westminster.
“Confusing,” one conservative MP told Business Insider. “We got an email early this afternoon saying three line but was originally one line.”
A government source confirmed to Business Insider that there would be no three-line whip on Thursday.
‘No idea what’s going on… it’s a mess’
Some Conservative MPs suspect that the claimed mix-up was in fact a deliberate political decision, taken after it became clear the government didn’t have the support it needed for a planned vote.
“If it was a genuine admin error they would have sent an email saying ‘apologies, error’, but we’ve had nothing,” one Conservative party source told Business Insider.
“No idea what’s going on, everyone’s raving.
“Whips office saying (privately) it was absolutely not an error, just people changing their minds.
“It’s a total f****** mess.”
Prime Minister May has been planning to table a key piece of legislation – the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – but faces a humiliating defeat by hundreds of MPs who are still opposed to her deal with the European Union.
Other plans to bring forward binding “indicative votes” on alternatives to May’s deal have also been in preparation by the government, but do not yet have the agreement of the opposition Labour party.