We're Only a Few More Tory Defections from a General Election

Here are the odds on who those defectors might be.

20 February 2019, 1:21pm

Anna Soubry, who defected from the Conservative Party today, speaks at the People's Vote march in October alongside Chuka Umunna Photo: Imageplotter News and Sports / Alamy Stock Photo

What's that strange strangled squawk coming from the centre ground? It's the three new Tory playmates who have been introduced into the "Independent Group's" pen.

With the addition of these three Conservative MPs to the existing eight Labour ones, the Unnamed New Centrist Party has gone from a meme about casual racism to a force to be reckoned with. Say hello to those new members:

Heidi Allen – posh, nice
Sarah Wollaston – posh, nice
Anna Soubry – not posh, always seems like she'd give you a long lecture on the proper way to flush the toilet if you went round her house.

This is potentially only the start of a domino effect that could rip the Commons out from under itself. There are supposed to be 650 MPs. Of course, Sinn Feinn never take their seats. So that means, effectively, you need 320 votes to form a government.

Theresa May has 317 Tory MPs. Sorry, had 317 MPs. Now, with 314 she'll be relying on the DUP's ten MPs more than ever. In effect, her majority has been slashed to four, and Twitter is already "abuzz" with rumours that a fourth Tory may be edging towards the plughole.

Which means that we’re potentially five defections away from a General Election. So who are the most likely candidates to plunge us over the present abyss into a whole new, never-before-considered abyss hiding just behind it?

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Ken Clark

Significantly, Ken was the only Tory to vote against triggering Article 50. This 78-year-old no longer gives a cobbler's toss what you think of him. He'd be more than happy to Thelma and Louise his political career, but what about his legacy? Blue down to the tip of his cigar, would he want to be seen as a splitter? Or would he see himself as an archetypal Big Beast, a stately barge full of gravitas, the Roy Jenkins of this new SDP?

Odds: 2/1.

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Jo Johnson

Boris's brother. More handsome, but about as charismatic as a lard bap. Jo has become Cain to Boris's Abel – infected by a virulent pro-Europeanism that saw him resign as a minister earlier this year to demand a second referendum. He is married to the Guardian journalist who broke the Windrush story, so really, it's only the fact that he went to Eton that keeps him in the Tory Party at all.

Odds: Evens.


Justine Greening

Has already openly touted herself as a Tory Ultra-Remain successor to May – very poor form. Resigned from government in a huff last year when she received a sideways move in a reshuffle rather than a promotion, so if this oddly charmless careerist sees no further upwards motion inside the Conservatives, she may be more than happy to sling her hook to a new party.

Odds: I’ll give you 7/2.

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Nicky Morgan

Considered "senior", despite being best known during her dismal career as Education Minister for having to make a humiliating, visible-from-space U-turn on converting all schools to Academies. Spiritually and socially, is the fourth Beatle in the Wollaston-Soubry-Allen axis – all those soft metropolitan jolly hockey-sticks Tories trying to build a new Waitrose Britain upon these green and pleasant lands. Already has more in common with Chuka than she does with Chris Grayling.

Odds: You’re looking at 1/2.

Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo

Oliver Letwin

Twat. Was IDS's Shadow Chancellor during the Tories' darkest days of 2003. Considered a "big brain" within the party, and advised Cameron on policy. Was once the victim of history’s most dubious burglary, and is also a twat.

Odds: He's pegged at 3/1 and not moving.

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Dominic Grieve

Lanky streak of piss, often considered the smartest MP in the Commons, serial Tory rebel and the most successful plotter of the Tory Ultra-Remainers. Would be a genuinely big scalp for the "Independent Group", but he confirmed this morning that he isn’t leaving the party. For now. For all his rebellions, deep down it just seems like there’s too much fuddy in his duddy to countenance leaving the warm embrace of The Party.

Odds: Let’s say 4/1