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How the tuition fee rebellion stacks up

Michael Crick | 20:08 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The government does seem to be surprisingly edgy about tomorrow night's vote, even though the figures still suggest the Coalition should win quite easily.

"I went to see David Willetts about one or two minor reservations I have," one Tory MP told me, "and the whips were all round me like flies." I couldn't believe it, and I support the policy."

As well as the pubicly declared Tory No votes and abstainers, I know of at least two women Tory MPs who are thinking of abstaining, and are talking to ministers and whips tonight about assurances. There are several other names of possible Tory rebels/abstainers which I still have to check. Mark Reckless and Jason McCartney are both among those mentioned, and who have yet to respond to my text messages. "I'm amazed at one or two of the names I've heard," one former Conservative minister told me.

My list of Tories who won't vote for the policy, or who will or may abstain, has now reached a dozen. A Tory friend tells me he knows of at least three others. Of course several of those will be brought onside over the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile Vince Cable was being grilled by MPs and peers at a meeting of the Parliamentary universities group tonight. They were partoicularly concerned about an imminnt report from a Cambridge academeic which will reveal that most universities plan to charge the maximum 9,000 fee. It's becoming known, I'm told, as "the race to the top".



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