By Matthew Barrett
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After last week's reshuffle of the Secretaries and Ministers of State, and this week's reshuffle of Parliamentary Private Secretaries, it's possible to investigate the state of a dying breed: the backbenchers who've always been loyal. The list below features the Conservative MPs who meet the following criteria:
- Are not currently on the government payroll (including as PPSs)
- Were not on the government payroll before the reshuffle (including as PPSs)
- Have not rebelled against the Government
I've excluded Nigel Evans, who is a Deputy Speaker, and I've noted their constituencies and years first elected. It's also perhaps worth noting Arbuthnot, Dorrell and Yeo are Select Committee chairmen.
- James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire, 1987)
- Richard Bacon (South Norfolk, 2001)
- Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury, 1983)
- Steve Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire, 2010)
- Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley since 1997, MP since 1992)
- Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase, 2010)
- Neil Carmichael (Stroud, 2010)
- Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham, 2010)
- Oliver Colvile (Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, 2010)
- Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood. 1979)
- Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock, 2010)
- Charlie Elphicke (Dover, 2010)
- Graham Evans (Weaver Vale, 2010)
- Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet, 1983)
- Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest, 2010)
- Rebecca Harris (Castle Point, 2010)
- Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne, 2010)
- Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke, 2010)
- Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock, 2010)
- David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale, 2010)
- Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham, 2010)
- Chris Skidmore (Kingswood, 2010)
- Mark Spencer (Sherwood, 2010)
- Tim Yeo (South Suffolk, 1983)
If you count only the European and Lords rebellions, there are 40 loyal backbenchers remaining, but if you consider all substantive rebellions, there are only 24 loyal backbenchers. This number drops to 17 if you count only those who voted for the Government's plans to abolish the House of Lords, rather than simply didn't rebel – 7 of the above MPs chose to abstain on the Lords vote.
The list illustrates the need for Team Cameron to start rehabilitating Europe and Lords rebels. To be sure, the 24 MPs contain some talented names, including Chris Skidmore, Kwasi Kwarteng and Steve Barclay, but if the Prime Minister wants to carry out a comprehensive reshuffle in the future, he will surely need to expand his backbench options – especially as a quarter of the MPs above were elected at or before the 1992 general election.