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Boris Johnson Critic Tobias Ellwood Has Tory Whip Removed Over Missing Confidence Vote

Tobias Ellwood has had the Conservative party whip removed after missing last night's confidence vote in Boris Johnson's government (Alamy)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has been criticised for stripping the Tory whip from Tobias Ellwood over missing a vote on last night’s motion of confidence in the government, preventing him from voting in the leadership contest.

Ellwood is in Eastern Europe having met the Moldovan president and is now travelling to Ukraine in his role as chair of the defence select committee. He is believed to have been unable to return to the UK for the vote as a result of heatwave travel disruption. 

It is understood he was warned by the Conservative Party if he did not cut his trip short then he would face consequences.

Now after failing to return to the Commons for last night’s vote Ellwood, who is a vocal critic of the Prime Minister, has had the party whip removed, the party has confirmed.

Tobias Ellwood MP has lost the Conservative Party whip following his failure to vote in support of the Government in the confidence vote last night,” a statement from the Whips office said.

The government defeated the motion by 349 to 238. Ellwood was one a total of 12 Conservative MPs – including new Cabinet minister Johnny Mercer – who abstained.

Removal of the whip means an MP cannot cast votes on behalf of their party.

The decision means Ellwood will no longer have a vote in the current Conservative leadership contest, which reaches its final stage of MP voting this week. 

Ellwood has been a vocal supporter of Penny Mordaunt and will now not be able to back her in the vital fourth ballot taking place this afternoon.

In a statement responding to the intervention, Ellwood said: "Following my meeting yesterday with the President of Moldova, I was unable to secure return travel due to unprecedented disruption both here and in the UK.

"I am very sorry to lose the whip but will now continue my meetings in Ukraine promoting the Prime Minister's efforts here and specifically seeking to secure the reopening of Odesa port – so vital grain exports can recommence."

A Conservative party source dismissed Ellwood's justification, insisting that a number of other MPs had cancelled foreign trips or rearranged urgent personal plans in order to vote. 

"One MP’s mother died on the morning of the vote and still attended and voted,” they added. 

Ellwood has been a long-term critic of Johnson, and was one of the first MPs to call for him to resign as Prime Minister over the so-called “partygate” affair.

The Liberal Democrats have accused Johnson of being “petty”, and contrasted the swift decision to suspend Ellwood with the initial decision to let Chris Pincher keep the whip after he was accused of serious sexual misconduct.

Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: "It is telling that Boris Johnson acted swiftly to punish Tobias Ellwood this time, but dragged his feet for days when it came to suspending the whip from his loyal supporter Chris Pincher.

“This petty act shows there is no room in the Conservatives any more for those who refuse to prop up Johnson.

“The Conservative leadership candidates should condemn this move and make clear they will restore the whip to Tobias Ellwood.”

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