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Wollaston has shown her independence in other respects — but has not been consistent. She was a supporter of an EU In/Out referendum and voted for it before it was Conservative policy. She initially supported Leave in the referendum. She then defected to the Remain side two weeks before the referendum, citing her displeasure at the £350-million-to-the-NHS claim on the side of the Vote Leave bus. Wollaston is now one of the few Tory supporters of a second referendum to overturn the initial result. Unlike Frank Field, Wollaston has not rebelled on issues where she has deeply-held and consistent views. She says that she is speaking up for her constituency, but even Totnes — an island of incense and folk weavery in a sea of Devonian farming folk — voted 54-46 per cent for Leave in the referendum.

What would a parliament full of Wollastons mean? This is what some, such as the former Conservative then UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, dearly hope for: independent MPs putting their beliefs and constituency interests before party. This is pretty close to how the US system works. Senators and members of Congress have to be persuaded to vote for each piece of legislation as they know they rely on voters in primaries for their nomination — not the party machine. Politicians do not usually take their stances out of high-minded principle but as bargaining chips to secure advantages for their constituents. It is not a good way to govern a country. Reform becomes difficult and public expenditure is misapplied. The US has lower than European but still relatively high rates of taxation along with appalling levels of public service. Its political system is largely to blame for this — it partly explains why Reagan could not push through his reforms as wholeheartedly as Thatcher. For Thatcherites such as Carswell dreaming of the wholesale reform of the UK, the last thing they should wish for is a House full of Wollastons. Strong political parties have much to commend them.  
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Michael Mosbacher
November 25th, 2018
4:11 PM
Afraid I could say the same - the constituency of Totnes voted Leave. The Leave vote was 53.9 per cent according to House of Commons Library research. Brexit: votes by constituency

P. Morley
November 24th, 2018
9:11 AM
South Hams, of which Totnes is within, voted 53% to 47% to Remain. Get your facts right.

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