Rebel Tory MP Nick Boles quits local party over Brexit row
Conservative MP Nick Boles has split from his local party amid an ongoing row over the handling of Brexit.
The Grantham and Stamford MP had clashed with local members over his refusal to back a no-deal exit and his preference towards a softer departure from the bloc.
Amid deteriorating relations last month, activists triggered a deselection process in a bid to stop Mr Boles running in the constituency at the next election.
In his resignation letter, seen by the BBC, the former minister said he was resigning with immediate effect.
He said: “I regret that my relationship with you should end in this way. But a politician without principles is worthless.
"I am in no doubt about my duty, which is to be true to my convictions and to dedicate the rest of my time in Parliament to the best interests of the people I was elected to serve."
Mr Boles said he wanted to continue to “take the Conservative whip” in Parliament if it is offered on “acceptable terms”.
In an article in the Times on Saturday, the MP said the Commons votes last week, at which he moved to block no-deal Brexit and extend Article 50, were the “final disintegration” of his relationship with the local party.
He added: “Although I will remain a Conservative MP until the next election I will not stand for re-election in Grantham and Stamford.
“But I have no regrets. This is how politics must work if we are to bring our divided nation together. Men and women of goodwill setting aside party-political differences and co-operating in the national interest.”
Reacting to the move yesterday, Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association vice president Councillor Martin Hill said members had been “betrayed” by their MP.
Writing to members, he said: “As you are all aware Nick has been at odds with the local party and the Prime Minister for some time, so this announcement does not come as a complete surprise but the timing does leave at lot to be desired.
“This is very disappointing for us all as once again we have been betrayed by our parliamentary representative but I am confident that we will continue to work together to support the Conservative cause in this part of Lincolnshire.”
It is understood the association will begin the selection process for a new candidate at its Annual General Meeting on 28 March, but Cllr Hill said the “honourable” course of action would be for Mr Boles to resign his seat earlier.
Conservative Chief Whip Julian Smith said Mr Boles was a "valued member of the Conservative parliamentary party which I hope will continue to benefit from his ideas and drive".
It is not yet confirmed yet when the third vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal will take place, however it is expected to be next week.
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