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If David Cameron had accepted the deal, then he would probably have blown up his party and would be at risk of a speedy ending to his political career.

The Conservative Party normally gives its leader for the time being great loyalty, but twice in its history the leader and his principal colleagues have been completely repudiated because they wanted to pursue a policy which the party found intolerable. This is something more than an ordinary decision that it is time to elect a new party leader.

In 1846, following the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Conservative Party split into Protectionist and Peelite factions. Sir Robert Peel and almost all of the Tories who were remotely credible as potential Ministers in the House of Commons, were left with very little support from the (largely stupid and inarticulate) aristocrats and gentry who composed the bulk of the Party in Parliament.

In 1922 Austen Chamberlain and the leading Conservative Ministers, wanted to continue the Lloyd George coalition. The bulk of the Conservative MPs decided to bring the coalition down and replace Chamberlain with his predecessor Andrew Bonar Law.

The level of anger in the Conservative Party today would make a third repudiation of a party leader quite possible, if he did not appease his followers.

by Gary J on Fri Dec 9th, 2011 at 01:59:52 PM EST
Twitter / @MichaelLCrick: Lord Oakeshott tells me La ...
Lord Oakeshott tells me Lady Thomson, widow of Britain's former EU Commissioner George Thomson, was in tears over Brussels deal

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2011 at 05:15:56 PM EST
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Clearly Cameron regards upsetting Liberal Democrats over Europe as less of a political risk than breaking with the anti-Euro Tories.

The worst the Lib Dems could do to Cameron would be to break up the coalition. Cameron and a united Conservative Party would be more likely than not to win an outright majority in the resulting general election. The Lib Dems would probably lose most of their existing seats.

The worst that the Tory right could do would be to break up the Conservative Party. A leader with a visibly split party and without many followers is unlikely to prosper in the post coalition election. That might be the only scenario which would give the Labour Party a real chance of a speedy return to power.

by Gary J on Sun Dec 11th, 2011 at 03:30:51 PM EST
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