Particularly since 2017, Conservative MPs have been encouraged to use social media regularly to connect with younger voters. It has, however, resulted in a government minister, Tobias Ellwood, issuing a cryptic message about his views on Brexit.
On Instagram, he posted a picture of his son eating banana bread, which they had cooked. Ellwood stated in the caption: ‘Told my son it will be ready in 20 mins- according to the cookbook. It took 30. It was a big decision- honouring the cookbook or take more time to get the right result’. He had posted the same message on Twitter the night before.
Cooked a banana cake yesterday. Told my son it will be ready in 20 mins – according to the cookbook.— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) January 21, 2019
It took 30.
It was a big decision – honouring the cookbook or take more time to get the right result. pic.twitter.com/aamhOou7BA
Strong parallels can be drawn with Brexit, where many MPs favour extending Article 50 in order to reduce the chances of a no deal Brexit or for some, to enable a referendum to be held to check that a majority of the British electorate still wish to pursue Brexit – in the hope largely, that this is no longer the case. These manoeuvres can be viewed in light of parliament’s rejection of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement in January by 432 votes to 202 – the single-largest government defeat in UK political history. It’s not the first time a cake analogy has been made in reference to Brexit with the phrase “having one’s cake and eating it” often being used when talking of the UK’s desire to remain part of some EU institutions and not others.
As a minister, Mr Ellwood (pictured above) would normally have to tow the party line and back his Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. Yet, at the risk of stating the obvious, these are not normal times in UK politics. Aside from the crushing defeat of Ms May’s withdrawal agreement deal, the last two months has also seen the government being found in contempt of parliament by MPs and May survive two confidence votes – one in her position as leader of the Conservative Party and the other in parliament’s confidence in the government. The normal rules of collective responsibility are that a minister holds to the government line, no matter how much in private they have disagreed and railed against a policy, or if they cannot do so, resigns as a matter of course. These do not apply so rigidly when it comes to Brexit, it seems.
In the aftermath of parliament’s rejection of May’s withdrawal agreement deal, it appears Mr Ellwood is putting forward on social media his own ideas of what should be the government’s ‘Plan B’.