Philip Hammond: Brexiteer entryists have turned Tory party into 'extreme right-wing faction'
Brexiteer "entryists" have turned the Conservative Party in an "extreme right-wing faction", according to Philip Hammond.
The former Chancellor also claimed that Boris Johnson may have broken the law by preventing him and 20 other Tory MPs who backed moves to block a no-deal Brexit from standing as candidates at the next election.
Mr Hammond said he had taken legal advice over the Prime Minister's decision to discipline the group, which included eight former Cabinet members and Winston Churchill's grandson.
He has also asked Tory chief whip Mark Spencer to set out the process that was followed before they were suspended from the party.
And in a fresh swipe at Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister's top aide, the Runnymede and Weybridge MP said: "This is my party, and I am not going to be pushed out of it by unelected Downing Street advisors who are not Conservatives and who care not one jot whether the party has a future."
Writing in The Surrey Advertiser, Mr Hammond said "we must get Brexit done" but defended the Tory rebels' decision to stop the PM taking the UK out of the EU on 31 October without a deal.
He said: "The national Interest must come before party or personal interest – but I am saddened that the Conservative Party (run by people who were serial rebels under Theresa May) has resorted to purging anyone expressing dissent. We all know only too well where that road ends up.
"I have been a member of the Conservative Party for 45 years; I have been a Conservative MP for 22 years, a front-bencher for 21 of them and a Cabinet minister for the last nine years. This is my party, and I am not going to be pushed out of it by unelected Downing Street advisors who are not Conservatives and who care not one jot whether the party has a future.
"Nor will I have my party taken from me by entryists and usurpers who have infiltrated the party ranks, in an attempt to turn it into an extreme right-wing faction
"I am currently taking legal advice with regard to the lawfulness of the actions taken against me and my colleagues last week and the processes that have been followed. In the meantime, I have written to the chief whip asking him to provide a formal statement of the reasons for the removal of the whip, the process by which that decision was made and the procedure by which it may be challenged.
"I will decide in due course how I intend to proceed and my colleagues will reach their own decisions.”
Mr Hammond's broadside is a fresh headache for Mr Johnson, who has also seen MPs block his attempts to hold a general election on 15 October.
The Prime Minister will make a fresh attempt to call the snap poll on Monday, but opposition parties have again vowed to vote against it.
Parliament is due to prorogue until 14 October next week, further limiting Mr Johnson's options.
Meanwhile, the PM has also angered Tory colleagues by refusing to rule out breaking the law by refusing to request the Brexit extension required by the rebel bill passed by Parliament last week.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe