Westminster Advisers was delighted to be joined by Conservative MP Alan Mak MP on Thursday 25th February, in the latest in our series of events examining the Conservative party in government.

This was a chance to consider the Conservative Party’s 2015 intake of MPs, what they’re like, and how they’re likely to behave. With many of the intake having won marginal seats at the election, their reliance on the Prime Minister for electoral success seems to have engendered a strong sense of loyalty.

More diverse – in terms of age, ethnicity, and gender – than previous intakes, only time will tell whether this will influence their approach to policy-making. Will this drive a focus on families and inequality, for example?

The discussion inevitably turned to Europe – arguably the ‘elephant in the room’ – and the long term implications for the Conservative Party. What are the main factors at play in the minds of Conservative parliamentarians as they determine their position on this significant issue? How realistic and achievable are the ambitions of Conservative MPs to achieve unity within the parliamentary party once the referendum is over and will a summer ministerial reshuffle achieve that? And will the referendum – both the campaign and the outcome – be a determining factor when it comes to the Conservative Party’s leadership election expected by 2019?

It’s clear that at this stage there are more questions than answers. While the commencement of the referendum campaign has reignited interest in Britain’s place in Europe, the impact that the outcome – and the campaign – will have on the Conservative Party is still very much up in the air.