Two Conservative MPs lost confidence votes at their local associations’ respective AGMs this evening.
The first was Dominic Grieve, in Beaconsfield, where members reportedly voted by 182 to 131 against him. As readers might expect, the primary topic of the night’s discussions was Brexit. What happens next is uncertain – a confidence vote does not hold formal weight in terms of deselection, though it is obviously a pretty clear verdict. Nor do we know if Grieve intends to seek readoption to stand again at the next election. The Beaconsfield association chairman says that “He [Grieve] remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow officers and the Executive Council.”
The second MP in trouble tonight is Andrew Griffiths, who lost a no confidence vote by what I’m told was a “clear” margin at the East Staffordshire Association AGM. The issue there was not Brexit but the widely-publicised controversies and misconduct allegations against the MP, which led to his suspension from the Party last year (he was reinstated to the Tory whip shortly before the confidence vote on Theresa May, to much criticism).
The strength of feeling against Griffiths locally appears to be sizeable. The motion was proposed by the leader of Staffordshire County Council and seconded by the Association President, which obviously gives it some heft. Immediately before the AGM, the association executive voted to require Griffiths to apply to seek readoption if he wishes to stand again – effectively a method of accelerating deselection (a tactic attempted in Grantham earlier in the year). Like Grieve, this vote does not compel a sitting MP to depart, now or later, but with senior local Tories, the association executive and the grassroots membership all pretty much arrayed against him continuing the message is quite blunt.