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EXCL Tory MP says he will rebel 'with clear conscience' as PM braced for Commons showdown

EXCL Tory MP says he will rebel 'with clear conscience' as PM braced for Commons showdown
3 min read

A rebel Tory MP has said he will vote to block a no-deal Brexit "with a clear conscience" as Boris Johnson braces himself for a major Commons showdown.

Guto Bebb is one of at least a dozen Conservative backbenchers preparing to defy the party whip in a crunch vote on Tuesday night.

Writing for PoliticsHome, the former minister denied he was a "traitor" for joining forces with opposition parties in a bid to pass a bill which would effectively make it illegal for the Prime Minister to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

The legislation would instead force him to request a fresh extension to the Brexit deadline until 31 January - or whatever alternative date Brussels demanded.

Following an emergency Commons debate, MPs are expected to vote on the rebel plan at around 10pm.

Former Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart are also among the high-profile Tories set to defy their party whips - even though they have been warned they will be banned from standing as candidates at the next election.

Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Justine Greening - another of the Tory rebels - has told the Prime Minister she will stand down at the next election because of her concerns about the party's direction.

She told Radio Four's Today programme: "It's very clear to me that my concerns about the Conservative Party becoming the Brexit Party have come to pass."

In his artcile, Mr Bebb said: "I will be voting this week to do everything I can to block a no deal Brexit.

"I will do so knowing that my party’s leader and, sadly, more than a few of its members, will regard me as a traitor to the Conservative Party. But I reject that, absolutely, and I know when I do vote against no deal, I will be far truer to Conservative tradition than anyone who traipses through the lobbies out of fear, opportunism or simply unthinking loyalty.

"To be a Conservative, at root, is surely to prefer liberty, free markets and democratic government to any ideological fad and to resist any attempt to make us servants of the state or disciples of a great leader. These are the mistakes socialists should, and frequently do, make and it is distressing to many of us to see Tories fall into this trap.

"So, while I always regret having to vote against the party’s whip, I do so with a clear conscience."

The Aberconwy MP said a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for hill farmers in his constituency, as well as those working in the steel, chemicals or food industries.

He said: "No reasonable or responsible Government should be allowed to get away with advocating a course of action they know will harm the people of the country and it is an absolute outrage that ministers feel they can do so with impunity."

Mr Bebb also hit out at the Prime Minister's threat to call an election for 14 October if the Government loses Tuesday's vote.

"This would be the greatest political folly of all because it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn in office, not as a temporary PM, but for five whole years," he said.

"For if the thinking is that Nigel Farage will stand aside for the Conservatives that will surely end in nothing but disappointment. Boris Johnson may love to be at the centre of media attention but he’s a rank amateur in those stakes compared to the Brexit Party leader."

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