While the Conservatives at Westminster settle in, united for the present, their County Council colleagues in Suffolk are far from united.
Despite having a majority of only four they have embarked on a vicious internal battle. In March, Mark Bee resigned as leader of the Conservative group because he felt his position had been undermined by internal tensions. His favoured candidate for his replacement, Jenny Antill, was beaten by Bee’s critic Colin Noble.
But it is only now, a week before the Council’s annual meeting, that he has resigned as leader of the council. This ends one of the rumours that has been swirling around that he would hang on to the council leadership and so force a vote.
The East Anglian Daily Times, reports today: “Mr Noble is now expected to be confirmed as new county council leader at next week’s annual meeting of the county council but could find life far from easy in his new role.”
Mr Bee became leader in 2011 in the turmoil over the New Strategic Direction and the resignation of his predecessor and the chief executive. He was seen as a steadying and unifying candidate.
There remains some doubt about whether Colin Noble will be smoothly chosen. Labour leader Sandy Martin has expressed concern that he would mean “a move to the right”.
Lib Dem leader David Wood has said:
Mark has always been fair to all parties. He’s always listened to what we have had to say. He’s always recognised that whatever our political backgrounds we are all keen to do what we see as best for the people of Suffolk. I know he has problems within his own group, and that might be because he’s been prepared to talk to us – but this is sad news for the county as a whole.
What the opposition parties will do at the meeting is uncertain. Mr Wood told the EADT: “Until we see what is happening, how can we know how to vote?”
And a Labour source told the paper: ““Frankly we won’t know what the situation is until we see to what extent the Tories are ripping into each other.”
The paper also suggests some Conservative members could vote against their new leader while others might stay away with diplomatic illnesses.