The Tory fight sums up the Prime Minister’s problem with keeping his party and coalition of voters together.
Attorney General Suella Braverman will give the Prime Minister cover to proceed by releasing the legal basis for Northern Ireland’s anti-protocol protocol on Monday.
Despite threats to his leadership, or perhaps because of it, Boris Johnson will continue with controversial plans to unilaterally suspend parts of the Brexit deal over Northern Ireland.
But thanks to various leaks, it’s clear that some government lawyers have concerns the plan violates international law.
The prospect of Mr Johnson breaching an agreement he signed less than three years ago is raising serious concerns among more centrist Tories, who fear it will tarnish Britain’s global reputation.
Several are threatening to vote against the bill, with a rebellion the last thing the Prime Minister needs just days after the Tory’s surviving vote of confidence in his leadership.
Despite this, the Prime Minister is carrying on, partly because he faces a potentially greater threat on the other side – from the hard-line Brexiteers of the European Research Group (ERG).
Legislatures will likely attempt to strike a balance between the competing concerns, hoping that enough large sections of the rival factions can be persuaded to support the government for any rebellion to be viable.
But the row sums up why Mr Johnson may find it difficult to restore his authority in this fractured Conservative Party.
One Nation Tories in the so-called ‘Blue Wall’ of the South’s wealthy seats, which are under threat from the Liberal Democrats, want the Prime Minister to drop his more right-wing Brexiteer tendencies – whether that incites a fight with the EU, which is deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda or the privatization of Channel 4.
But if he does so to gain their support, he risks losing the support of the ERG and other Brexiteer MPs in so-called “Red Wall” constituencies, which overwhelmingly backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum and where the Voters respond well to culture war issues.
Some Tories believe the coalition of MPs and voters that gave the party a massive 2019 election victory is unsustainable in the long term and that Mr Johnson, or whoever is the leader, will ultimately have to choose sides.