“At least it’s not mine”. A close relative used to mutter this to me when we witnessed or heard a toddler tantrum and sympathised with the poor parents. I’ve served my time with toddler tantrums and now I, too, think my sympathy for the parents at a distance where I now encounter these incidents – mostly in cafés and supermarkets …

… except that in the past few days, I’ve seen similar incidents emblazoned across TV screens and taking up column inches in the papers as a handful of MPs have protested at missing out on the honours they were promised in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list. The controversy is also grounded in the small matter of the Commons Privileges Committee, which has found that Johnson did mislead Parliament over ‘partygate’ – prompting him to resign his seat – but it has been turbocharged by Tory MPs resigning after Rishi Sunak refused to endorse all of Johnson’s proposed candidates for the Upper House.

This provides great copy for journalists and great entertainment for the public but where does it leave the issues that are so important for our industry: Progress towards meeting housing need, investment in town and city centres and regeneration?

The arguments around whether or not Johnson misled the House or whether he gets what he wants from the honours list do not themselves directly affect housing policy; however, they have some significance in Sunak’s changing relationship with the Conservative Parliamentary Party – and this has some potential significance for the development and regeneration industries.

Since he became Prime Minister, Sunak has had to act from a position of political weakness: The Tories are still languishing in the polls, he lacks the strength of a personal mandate and he has to manage some strident and frustrated factions within the Party – crudely put, the Right who want to use Brexit as an opportunity to deregulate and the Red Wall Conservative MPs fighting their constituents’ corner for more investment and for whom deregulation is not a priority. These factions and their would-be leaders, such as Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, are spending a lot of time manoeuvring so that their side comes out on top if, as they fear, the Tories lose the General Election.

It is this weakness that led to Sunak and Michael Gove, the DLUHC Secretary, to propose changes to the NPPF that weaken housing targets – in response to pressure from backbench Conservative MPs under pressure from their constituents. As well as deepening the housing crisis and wreaking further economic damage this move has actually deepened the problems for Sunak in managing the Parliamentary Party. This is because many other Conservative MPs reacted badly to the proposed NPPF changes, claiming that it went down badly on the doorstep in the local elections (see this blog by Redwood’s Matthew Detzler) and costing votes in their area. On the issue of housing targets Sunak and Gove are therefore in a difficult and, some might say, impossible position.

But Johnson’s departure from the political stage changes the Prime Minister’s relationship with his MPs. The factions are still there, as are the issues – but the king over the water is gone and, once he is outside Parliament it is much, much more difficult for him to make trouble for his successor. Deprived of this big political personality, with his talent in dominating the news, the factions within the Conservative Parliamentary Party must bring to the fore new spokespeople and potential leaders who cannot so effortlessly upstage the Prime Minister.

So, Sunak has got himself a bit of respite – only a bit, mind. He will not be able to put off the housing issue for long and will need to find a way of reconciling the different Tory ‘camps’ on the issue. Don’t expect anything radical but it is clear from the backlash against the proposed NPPF changes that some potential Conservative supporters want more housing. Sunak and Gove will need all their powers of political persuasion to reconcile these differing interests.