The headline news in the elections to the Brexit Select Committee is of course that Michael Gove will be a member. But there’s also something to be gleaned about the attitude of the wider Parliamentary Conservative Party from the overall outcome.
In total, ten Conservative MPs will be members of the committee: Gove, Alistair Burt, Maria Caulfield, Andrea Jenkyns, Jeremy Lefroy, Peter Lilley, Craig Mackinlay, Karl McCartney, Dominic Raab and John Whittingdale.
The very fact that eight of the ten supported Leave is instructive. Something like 60 per cent of the Parliamentary Party supported Remain in the referendum, but evidently they are utterly committed to getting on with implementing the referendum result. That’s even more clear when you look beyond the numbers to the personalities they’ve chosen to support – Gove and Whittingdale played prominent roles in Vote Leave; Lilley and Raab are specialists on the technicalities of leaving the EU; Mackinlay is a former Leader and Deputy Leader of UKIP. These are not voices who will accept a fudged Brexit.
The choice of MPs who had backed Remain is also instructive. Or, rather, the rejection of one who sought to be on the committee: Anna Soubry. Tory MPs evidently weren’t opposed to former Remainers taking part in the process – if they were, Burt and Lefroy wouldn’t have made the cut – but they have rejected Soubry’s outright opposition to leaving the EU. It seems that either her tone or her position on the topic (or both) put off her colleagues.
It’s a responsible decision – they could have chosen her if they wanted exciting, angry rows in the committee room, but instead they have chosen people who are reconciled to their defeat and have moved on to focusing on the detail of how Brexit is going to work. Whichever side they were on in the referendum, Tory MPs now want to get the job done.