View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
12 June 2019updated 02 Sep 2021 4:52pm

Can the One Nation Tories muzzle Boris Johnson as PM?

By Patrick Maguire

MPs from the One Nation caucus of self-styled Conservative moderates are celebrating victory – albeit not in the race to succeed Theresa May. Simon Hoare, the group’s preferred candidate, has been elected chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs select committee. 

Hoare, who quit as Sajid Javid’s parliamentary private secretary in order to run for the post, won handily in the first round, with 239 of 444 votes. His nearest challenger, the hard Brexiteer Maria Caulfield, won 139. Mark Pritchard, another opponent of the withdrawal agreement, got 59. 

As a Remainer, Hoare was always best-placed to win the votes of Labour MPs, who are the crucial swing electorate in any contest for a Tory-held committee chairmanship. Opposition members informally canvassed support for his candidacy, and it is their votes that are likely to have got him over the line. But some members of the One Nation group believe his victory proves a rather different point: that they have real and significant power as an organised faction. 

What Conservative Remainers have always lacked is the sort of shadow whipping operation that the European Research Group had used to such devastating effect. There are high hopes that the 60-strong One Nation group can provide the operational framework for something similar under a Boris Johnson premiership or worse. Some have taken Hoare’s victory as evidence that it could work. “It’s a testament to our power as a caucus,” says one member who has made their peace with the idea of Johnson as prime minister. 

Part of the reason that optimists in the group are more sanguine about the looming prospect of a Johnson government than one might expect is their expectation that, as long as it does not have a majority, they will be able to keep it on a sensible course through force of numbers. In Hoare’s victory they see the “early signs” of such a strategy paying dividends. Its pessimists are less sure. They point to the fact that the ERG vote, though cumulatively less than Johnson’s, was split between Caulfield and Pritchard. Many of the Tory MPs who voted for the losing candidates are supporting Johnson, too. And ultimately, all 313 would make up his parliamentary party anyway.  

So while it may be that today’s result marks the arrival of the One Nation caucus as a group capable of exerting serious pressure on the government, it certainly won’t be alone in doing so – and it doesn’t inevitably follow that they will turn today’s victory into a winning streak

Content from our partners
How to tackle the UK's plastic pollution problem – with Coca-Cola
The hard truth about soft skills
Why we need a national employment service

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.