Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has mischievously told David Cameron to fire Andrew Mitchell over allegations he called police "plebs" during an expletive filled rant at the officers guarding Downing Street.
“This has gone on long enough. Neither the prime minister nor the chief whip have proved capable of coming clean swiftly and putting this right," she said.
Noting widespread reports that Tory MPs no longer felt Mitchell had any authority left, she added: "And it is now clear no one even in the Conservative Party has confidence in Andrew Mitchell either."
“The failure by David Cameron and Andrew Mitchell to take this incident seriously enough and to sort it out straight away means Andrew Mitchell will clearly not be able to instil respect in Parliament or beyond as chief whip, and this will just drag on and on.
"David Cameron needs to put an end to this now and remove Andrew Mitchell from his position as chief whip.”
However Cooper's call for Mitchell to resign is likely to be a deliberate ploy to try and force the Cameron to keep him in post - as the prime minister will not want to be seen to have bent to Labour's will.
A YouGov poll published on Friday showed 50% of public think the row shows that Tory MPs see themselves as better than ordinary people.
The class-based "pleb" insult the officers claim Mitchell hurled at them is toxic for a Tory party leadership desperate to avoid the perception that it is made up of out of touch "posh boys" who look down on the average voter.
Much better for Labour if Mitchell stays in post to re-enforce that view in voters minds. Let alone the fact that as chief whip Mitchell is in charge of enforcing party discipline, if his credibility among his own MPs is torn to shreds Labour will hope Cameron will have an even tougher job of keeping his party in line.
Labour MP Jamie Reed said the situation was "win/win" for the party. "I'd love him to stay. A Chief Whip with no authority," he tweeted. "What a spectacle."
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