Philip Hammond says he is ‘agonising’ over whether he wants Tories to win snap election
Philip Hammond has said he is "agonising" over whether he wants the Conservative Party to win the next general election.
The former Chancellor said while he believed Boris Johnson would form "a better government than any other alternative" he blasted the "Vote Leave activists" who had been "parachuted in" as top Downing Street figures to try and change the party's direction.
Mr Hammond, who was among the 21 Tory MPs to have the whip withdrawn last month over their opposition to a no-deal Brexit, also said he had been "kicked", "abused" and "reviled" by party members for his stance on Brexit.
It comes ahead of a fresh attempt by the Prime Minister to try and trigger a snap election in December, in a bid to win a majority that could force through his Brexit plans.
When asked if he wanted the Conservatives to win the next election, Mr Hammond told the BBC's Today programme: "I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party for 40 years and I’m agonising over this.
"It really doesn’t matter how many times my party kicks me, abuses me, reviles me, they’re not going to stop me feeling like a Conservative.
"I believe that my view of the world, my approach to what the Conservative Party should be, a party that stands for sound government, solid economic management, responsible fiscal management, I believe that that is where the Conservative Party has to be in the future and I’m not ready to give up fighting for the soul of the Conservative Party.”
When pressed on the issue again he added: "Of course, I want to see a Conservative Party government, I want to see the Conservatives in government.
"On 90% of issues, on everything except Brexit, I am sure Boris Johnson would form a better government than any other alternative that’s likely to be available, but I am agonising over the situation I find myself in because I am not ready to give up on my party just because a bunch of people from Vote Leave have been parachuted in and are now calling the shots."
Mr Hammond also railed against the attempts to try and force a snap election as an attempt by "entryists" to oust MPs who were seen by the party's hierarchy as not being committed enough to Britain leaving the EU.
And he said Mr Johnson was responsible for "blocking Brexit" by pushing for an election instead of trying to get his Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the Commons.
"I fear that the real narrative here is that the Vote Leave activists, the cohort that has seized control in Downing Street and to some extent the headquarters of the Conservative Party, wants this general election to change the shape of the Conservative Party in Parliament, to get rid of a cohort of MPs that it regards as not robust enough on this issue and to replace them with hardliners," he said.
"This is a piece of blatant entryism to change what the Conservative Party is about.”
He added: "Last Tuesday Parliament signalled very clearly that it was willing to progress this bill.
"It is the Government that has blocked it and the Government should now stop blocking Brexit, allow Parliament to get on with the Brexit bill and deliver Brexit by the end of November."
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