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Let’s play Fantasy Front Bench


ONE of the arguments frequently given against defenestrating Boris Johnson is that there are no obvious suitable contenders to replace him. This may well be true of the Cabinet: it’s been said that he won’t appoint anyone who might outshine him and as he is like an anaemic glow-worm the rest of the Cabinet is similarly low-wattage. They certainly seem to be lukewarm on Brexit, hot on Covid restrictions and even hotter on Net Zero and ‘climate change’. Any replacement Prime Minister drawn from the existing Cabinet is therefore unlikely to be much better than what we’ve got.

But what of outside the Cabinet? Is there any hidden talent lurking on the back benches? The clearest distinction recently between Johnson and some in his party was the vote on vaccine passports, in which 99 Tory MPs voted against him and more than 30 others (including his own Chancellor!) failed to support him and abstained. Those 130-plus include some political heavyweights with considerable experience and some up-and-coming members with great enthusiasm. There should be enough talent there to make a government.

So for a bit of fun to while away a cold January weekend, let’s play Fantasy Front Bench. You choose the next Prime Minister and the major players in the new Cabinet. The rules are simple:

– Your PM and the bulk of your ministers must come from the 99 Tory MPs who voted against vaccine passports.

– You’re allowed a wild card – you may appoint one minister either from the abstainers, the Lords (any bench) or the Commons Opposition benches. Your wild card must be a current member of either House, so no Churchill or Thatcher.

– Just concentrate on the major players; you don’t need to appoint a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, for example.

You can give reasons for each of your choices, or just say what the general tone of your new government would be and what you’d expect them to deliver. Let’s see what sort of front benches we can come up with!

To save you having to look them up here are the runners and riders:

Those voting against vaccine passports:

Afriyie, Adam  [Windsor]

Anderson, Lee  [Ashfield]

Bailey, Shaun  [West Bromwich West]

Baillie, Siobhan  [Stroud]

Baker, Steve  [Wycombe]

Baldwin, Harriett  [West Worcestershire]

Baron, John  [Basildon and Billericay]

Benton, Scott  [Blackpool South]

Blackman, Bob  [Harrow East]

Bone, Peter  [Wellingborough]

Bradley, Ben  [Mansfield]

Bradley, Karen  [Staffordshire Moorlands]

Brady, Sir Graham  [Altrincham and Sale West]

Bridgen, Andrew  [North West Leicestershire]

Brine, Steve  [Winchester]

Cates, Miriam  [Penistone and Stocksbridge]

Chope, Sir Christopher  [Christchurch]

Clarke-Smith, Brendan  [Bassetlaw]

Clifton-Brown, Sir Geoffrey  [The Cotswolds]

Crouch, Tracey  [Chatham and Aylesford]

Davies, Philip  [Shipley]

Davis, David  [Haltemprice and Howden]

Davison, Dehenna  [Bishop Auckland]

Djanogly, Jonathan  [Huntingdon]

Drax, Richard  [South Dorset]

Duncan Smith, Sir Iain  [Chingford and Woodford Green]

Ellwood, Tobias  [Bournemouth East]

Evans, Luke  [Bosworth]

Fox, Liam  [North Somerset]

French, Louie  [Old Bexley and Sidcup]

Fuller, Richard  [North East Bedfordshire]

Fysh, Marcus  [Yeovil]

Ghani, Ms Nusrat  [Wealden]

Gideon, Jo  [Stoke-on-Trent Central]

Grayling, Chris  [Epsom and Ewell]

Green, Chris  [Bolton West]

Green, Damian  [Ashford]

Grundy, James  [Leigh]

Halfon, Robert  [Harlow]

Hammond, Stephen  [Wimbledon]

Harper, Mark  [Forest of Dean]

Hayes, Sir John  [South Holland and The Deepings]

Holloway, Adam  [Gravesham]

Hunt, Tom  [Ipswich]

Jenkinson, Mark  [Workington]

Jones, David  [Clwyd West]

Jupp, Simon  [East Devon]

Kearns, Alicia  [Rutland and Melton]

Knight, Julian  [Solihull]

Knight, Sir Greg  [East Yorkshire]

Largan, Robert  [High Peak]

Latham, Pauline  [Mid Derbyshire]

Leadsom, Andrea  [South Northamptonshire]

Leigh, Sir Edward  [Gainsborough]

Lewer, Andrew  [Northampton South]

Lewis, Julian  [New Forest East]

Loder, Chris  [West Dorset]

Logan, Mark  [Bolton North East]

Lord, Jonathan  [Woking]

Loughton, Tim  [East Worthing and Shoreham]

Mackinlay, Craig  [South Thanet]

Mangnall, Anthony  [Totnes]

McCartney, Karl  [Lincoln]

McPartland, Stephen  [Stevenage]

McVey, Esther  [Tatton]

Metcalfe, Stephen  [South Basildon and East Thurrock]

Moore, Damien  [Southport]

Moore, Robbie  [Keighley]

Morris, Anne Marie  [Newton Abbot]

Mumby-Croft, Holly  [Scunthorpe]

Neill, Sir Robert  [Bromley and Chislehurst]

Offord, Dr Matthew  [Hendon]

Pawsey, Mark  [Rugby]

Penning, Sir Mike  [Hemel Hempstead]

Penrose, John  [Weston-super-Mare]

Percy, Andrew  [Brigg and Goole]

Randall, Tom  [Gedling]

Redwood, John  [Wokingham]

Robertson, Laurence  [Tewkesbury]

Rosindell, Andrew  [Romford]

Sambrook, Gary  [Birmingham, Northfield]

Seely, Bob  [Isle of Wight]

Smith, Greg  [Buckingham]

Smith, Henry  [Crawley]

Spencer, Ben  [Runnymede and Weybridge]

Stevenson, Jane  [Wolverhampton North East]

Stevenson, John  [Carlisle]

Sturdy, Julian  [York Outer]

Swayne, Sir Desmond  [New Forest West]

Syms, Sir Robert  [Poole]

Thomas, Derek  [St Ives]

Tracey, Craig  [North Warwickshire]

Tugendhat, Tom  [Tonbridge and Malling]

Villiers, Theresa  [Chipping Barnet]

Wakeford, Christian  [Bury South]

Walker, Sir Charles  [Broxbourne]

Warburton, David  [Somerton and Frome]

Watling, Giles  [Clacton]

Wragg, Mr William  [Hazel Grove]

Those who abstained:

Aiken, Nickie  [Cities of London and Westminster]

Ansell, Caroline  [Eastbourne]

Argar, Edward  [Charnwood]

Atkins, Victoria  [Louth and Horncastle]

Bowie, Andrew  [West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine]

Colburn, Elliot  [Carshalton and Wallington]

Dinenage, Caroline  [Gosport]

Donelan, Michelle  [Chippenham]

Duguid, David  [Banff and Buchan]

Fell, Simon  [Barrow and Furness]

Francois, Mark  [Rayleigh and Wickford]

Harris, Rebecca  [Castle Point]

Henry, Darren  [Broxtowe]

Jack, Alister  [Dumfries and Galloway]

Jayawardena, Ranil  [North East Hampshire]

Jones, Fay  [Brecon and Radnorshire]

Lamont, John  [Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk]

Liddell-Grainger, Ian  [Bridgwater and West Somerset]

Lopresti, Jack  [Filton and Bradley Stoke]

May, Mrs Theresa  [Maidenhead]

Menzies, Mark  [Fylde]

Mercer, Johnny  [Plymouth, Moor View]

Mitchell, Andrew  [Sutton Coldfield]

Mordaunt, Penny  [Portsmouth North]

Mortimer, Jill  [Hartlepool]

Mundell, David  [Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale]

Norman, Jesse  [Hereford and South Herefordshire]

Ross, Douglas  [Moray]

Sunak, Rishi  [Richmond (Yorks)]

Vickers, Matt  [Stockton South]

Wallace, Ben  [Wyre and Preston North]

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Chris Lamb
Chris Lamb
Chris Lamb has been, amongst other things, a lorry driver, an IT support engineer and a special constable. He is a Brexiteer and was a UKIP candidate in the 1997 Election, and has served as a Conservative councillor.

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