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Fri, 5 June 2020

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Defiant Tory MP Nick Boles tells local deselection plotters he will 'not be bullied' in major Brexit row

Defiant Tory MP Nick Boles tells local deselection plotters he will 'not be bullied' in major Brexit row

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

A top Tory MP facing a deselection threat over Brexit has told his local party bosses: “I won’t be bullied.”

Ex-minister Nick Boles issued the defiant message after his constituency association chair made a thinly-veiled warning that he could be kicked out of his Grantham and Stamford seat.

Philip Sagar urged the MP to address local party members as he revealed that dozens had called for him to be replaced over his defiance on Brexit.

Mr Boles has played a leading role in the campaign for a so-called Norway-style Brexit - which would keep the UK in the single market and leave it subject to freedom of movement.

He threatened to resign the whip in December to prevent a no-deal departure from the EU, and this week voted against the Government twice to avoid a disorderly exit.

But he came out fighting today after BuzzFeed News revealed the plot brewing in his local association to have him ousted as their MP.

“The chairman and officers of my local association demand that I submit to the views of the most extreme Brexiteers in our party, many of whom are former members of Ukip and only joined the Conservative party in the last few months,” he said in a message on his website.

“Well I won’t do it. I won’t be bullied.”

He added: “I am always ready to engage with members of the local Conservative association and hear their views on Brexit or anything else. Most of the time we will probably agree.

“But when we don’t, and when I think your interests demand that I break with my party, my Prime Minister or members [of] my local association, then that is exactly what I will do.

“I did it twice this week. And I stand ready to do it again.”

In his letter to members, Mr Sagar said: “In all of my 4 years as your chairman I have never received so many emails and letters about Nick’s actions.

“Over 99% of you are calling for his deselection as our MP; although in fairness there have been a few in support of his stance.”

He added: “Let me start by saying it is not an easy matter to deselect a sitting Conservative MP. There will in any case have to be a selection meeting of the Association Executive Council in the next few months in readiness for a General election should it be called early”.

And he warned: “Nick’s actions I fear, have unfortunately made that process much more difficult for him.”