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Tuesday 1st November 2011 | 13:04
The aftershocks from last week's EU referendum rebellion continue to be felt more than a week later.
I hear that this morning moves began to mobilise the power of the 81 Tory backbenchers who voted for the Nuttall motion.
The group will gather as an 'informal caucus' to present the new face of Conservative Euroscepticism. It will meet to ensure that the pressure is maintained on the Government over the issue and the possibility of further rebellions are not ruled out on select items of legislation.
"We will be choosing our moment but there will be moments when the caucus will have to act in the national interest," says one member.
Unlike the 92 Group or the '22, the new group will not have a leader (Nadine Dorries may or may not be disappointed after her blog yesterday) and will be 'bottom up, not top down'.
David Cameron was saying only last week how much he was worried about 'caucusing', though of course his concerns were more about the eurozone states rather than his own backbenchers.
But the caucus will not just seek to dig in, it will reach out to other parts of the 'Eurosceptic family'. Crucially, it will seek to unite Eurosceptics on the centre left and the Right of the party. Although its core will be 'The 81' who put their principles before the whips, its membership will be open to all, including those who abstained or even voted against the Nuttall motion.
Meanwhile, in another example of reaching out by Eurosceps, I hear that Mark Pritchard bumped into Nick Clegg yesterday and the pair of them had a remarkably cordial exchange.
Pritchard pointed out that the Lib Dems and Tories could unite around agreement to repatriate the Common Fisheries Policy. Of course, a point man would be needed for the Libs on such a tentative deal and both Jeremy Browne and David Laws were mentioned. Clegg and Pritchard look like they will be meeting up to discuss it further. One to watch.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Dan Byles, one of the '81', tweeted me last night to say he wasn't aware of the new caucus. Tracey Crouch has now gone further with a letter to Mark Pritchard that has been leaked to ConHome.
Number 10 and the whips will be delighted if the 81 are slowly whittled down in numbers.
To be fair to Pritch, however, he wasn't the man who came up with the '81 Group' phrase. I hear the name was first floated at the Centre Right Group (the umbrella organisation for the 92 Group, No Turning Back Group and Cornerstone Group of Tory MPs) last week. In fact, one particular old hand came up the idea...
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