The new co-secretary of the backbench 1922 committee has acknowledged that a UK Bill of Rights is "highly unlikely" while the Tories remain in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Karen Bradley, a loyalist and moderniser among Tory MPs, became the first woman to hold the post of co-secretary of the influential Tory committee when she was elected a fortnight ago. Elections to the 1922 executive saw Cameron-loyalists and modernisers make big gains on the executive, with many vocal critics of the government - or "wreckers" as they're known - losing their posts.
In her first interview at Westminster, she told The Huffington Post UK: "We could have a debate on abolishing the Human Rights Act and getting a Bill of Rights, we could debate that for several years, we could waste all that Parliamentary time.
"But we’ll never get through because there aren’t enough bodies to walk through the same division lobby and pass it."
As part of the coalition agreement David Cameron and Nick Clegg agreed to "explore" the possible creation of a UK Bill of Rights - duly pledging to hand the issue to an independent commission. But members of the body are reportedly divided on how a UK Bill of Rights could be worded and are unlikely to produce an agreed text when they report later this year.
Britain's relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights returned to the spotlight last week when the European Court ruled the UK's blanket ban on voting rights for prisoners was illegal. David Cameron responded by saying Parliament's right to keep the ban should override the views of a "foreign court". The Court has given Britain six months to bring its policies on prisoner voting into line with its ruling and it's unclear how the government will respond.
Karen Bradley also warned colleagues to stop leaking information from the 1922 committee meetings, after reports of several meetings found their way into the press. "We need people to come back together and stop the barracking, and stop the misbehaviour, and to stop the leaking," she said.
Bradley also outlined her plans to make the 1922 committee a more reprentative forum, better-attended by backbenchers. Revealing that last week only 81 MPs attended the committee meeting, Bradley told HuffPost: "We’ve still got some work to do, we need to look at how we make it relevant to the whole party, and one of the things I was really pleased at, if you look at the make-up of the new executive it’s every part of the party.
"There are 306 Conservative MPs. So to only have 81 when we’re here and we’re voting, and people are around, that indicates that it’s not as well-attended as perhaps it should be."
Above all Bradley is keen to stress backbench dissatisfaction with coalition policies should be aired behind closed doors and not in the media. "My view is the '22 is the forum for us to let off steam, internally, without the outside world knowing about it, and then we come out and may still disagree, but life’s a negotiation. I think that’s a conversation you have behind closed doors, and the government will move," she told us.
"Unfortunately a principled rebellion is a joker you can only play once. And I’m going to save mine up for when I really, really need to," she added.
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