As you will have noticed, one of the things that this site is tracking, alongside headline figures, is how Conservative MPs are breaking on the EU referendum is the proportion of each that is on the payroll.
This has revealed how the Leave ranks are comprised primarily of those who do not enjoy Government patronage, whereas more than half of all Remain MPs are either paid members of the executive or PPSs.
With Parliament set to shrink by 50 MPs before the next election, the size of the payroll vote has taken on particular importance – there are no plans to cut it proportionally, which will increase the Government’s hold on the Commons.
The true extent of the payroll vote is quite extraordinary.
Of the 330 Conservative MPs, we find no fewer than 133 – more than a third – are on the formal payroll. Prime Ministerial patronage extends further still, however, with another nine MPs serving as ‘Trade Envoys’. Other patronage positions, such as Vice-Chairs of the Party, will swell these ranks yet further.
This adds up to 142 out of 330, or just 23 MPs short of half the Parliamentary Conservative Party, confirmed recipients of Number 10’s largesse in some form or other.
If we exclude the 74 MPs from the Class of 2015 – who have not yet had the opportunity to be appointed to anything – then the shadow of Number 10 stretches considerably further: more than half the pre-election PCP is receiving patronage, 142 against just 114.
In a 600-seat House of Commons, 142 MPs would leave almost a quarter of the Chamber beholden to the Government in some form or other.
Combined with the Prime Minister’s hostility to external income, which provides MPs with an alternative means of financial advancement to executive patronage, these trends could greatly diminish the independent nature of MPs in the next House of Commons.