After Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer column blew open coalition tensions on control orders on Sunday, it was only a matter of time before David Davis added his two cents. And, as expected, the most feared rebel on the Tory benches has warned Theresa May that this is no time to go wobbly.
Davis did little to suggest the coalition would avoid what David Cameron described as a “fucking car crash”. He told the Daily Politics:
It’s certainly headed for a problem on a major scale. You’ve probably got 25 Lib Dem MPs who will find trouble voting for this; I suspect as many Tory MPs as well, maybe more. Certainly many more who are worried about it.
The former shadow home secretary, who first pushed the Conservatives in a libertarian direction, has vowed to vote against any attempt to renew the “Kafka-esque” control orders.
With Labour once more a civil libertarian party under Ed Miliband’s leadership, ministers will, as Paul Waugh suggests, face an unholy alliance between MPs from all three parties if they renege on their pledge to abolish control orders. Moreover, Davis, Kenneth Clarke and Dominic Grieve are on the record as being unambiguously opposed to control orders.
Any attempt to maintain control orders under the guise of anti-terrorism is likely to be met with contempt across the House. Cameron must hold his nerve and face down the security establishment.