As Graham Stringer, a Labour MP, told GB News: “I find effectively civil servants sacking a minister, which is what has happened, quietly disturbing because one of the great myths in our political life is that we have a non-political civil service”.
In order to remain world-leading in science, the PM’s former adviser explained, it is necessary to take risks and cut out bureaucracy.
There are now 15 independents, plus the Change UK factions and a smattering of pro-Brexit rebel Labour MPs.
The Government won by 11 votes, 298 to 309, in a setback for Letwin – though the result doesn’t guarantee No Deal any more than a vote the other way would barred it.
The amendment was seen off by 314-312, so the six votes from the Opposition benches made all the difference.
The amendment passed by 317 to 301 – and seven Labour MPs rebelled to back it.
The role of these MPs in pro-Leave seats abstaining on or voting against the Cooper amendment in defiance of the whip was crucial.
The Government is suggesting that it will make little difference in practical terms – but opposed it for symbolic and political reasons.
The presence of four Labour Leavers helped the UK to avoid a customs union – but their absence on a more minor amendment produced a Government defeat.
Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer and Kelvin Hopkins voted with the Government.
Does the narrowness of the win signal further problems to come, or has the Government headed off the revolt?
Last-minute concessions appear to have saved the Government from defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill
The Government won by 326 votes to 290. Ken Clarke voted against the Programme Motion – the only Tory vote against the Bill earlier today.
Nicky Morgan also didn’t vote, along with Ben Howlett and Nick Herbert.
The group wants a Hard Brexit. Either way, the Government should move Article 50 before next spring is over.