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You will have noticed that the European Research Group has not massed 48 letters from Conservative MPs calling for a vote of confidence in Theresa May.

But you may not have clocked that Stand Up for Brexit has now gained 54 backers – Tim Loughton being the most recent, declaring his support yesterday.

On paper, that’s 54 Tory votes against Theresa May’s deal, since at least one of the campaign’s three objections to her plans still stands: “the backstop allows Northern Ireland to be separated from the rest of the UK”.

In practice, of course, not all of them may do so.  Fewer than 54 may actually vote against the agreement as it stands.  (Our current calculation is that a minimum of 31 Conservative MPs will go into the opposition lobby.)

Then again, there may eventually be more Tory letters of no confidence, just as there may be fewer Conservative votes against the deal.  There is simply no way of telling.

What we do know is that the Government has lost the support of the DUP.  The confidence and supply arrangement between that party and the Tories exists more in the breach than the observance.  It abstained yesterday evening on finance bill votes.

Downing Street will be hoping, over the next few weeks, to grind that 31 down and push the number of opposition MPs prepared to support the deal, especially Labour ones, up – or at least to persuade these and the DUP to abstain. That looks like a tall order.

186 comments for: Fewer than 48 letters, more than 53 signatures

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