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Twenty-one Tory rebels lose party whip after backing bid to block no-deal Brexit

3 min read

A total 21 Tory rebels have been effectively kicked out of the party after they voted with opposition parties to block a no-deal Brexit.

Two ex-Chancellors, eight former Cabinet ministers and the grandson of Winston Churchill were among the Conservatives who had the party whipped removed after the Government was defeated on Tuesday night.

It means they will be barred from standing for the Tories at the next general election.

The Downing Street crackdown came after MPs voted 328-301 to take control of the Commons timetable in order to pass a bill blocking no-deal on 31 October.

After the vote, A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The Chief Whip is speaking to those Tory MPs who did not vote with the Govt this evening. They will have the Tory whip removed."

Tory chairman James Cleverly tweeted: “Voting to delay Brexit will hamper the Prime Minister’s ability to get a deal. 

“Some Conservatives were used last night by opposition MPs who want no deal so that they can use it as an excuse to stop Brexit completely.”

The swift action brought the Government’s number of MPs down from 310 to 289.

Sir Nicholas Soames, a Tory MP since 1983 and Sir Winston's grandson, said: "I've voted against the Conservative Party three times in 37 years, and I've had the whip removed."

Another rebel, former Cabinet member and Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart, told Radio Four's Today programme: "It feels a little bit like something that one associates with other countries - one  opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the Cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and out of one's seat."

But he remains committed to standing as a Conservative MP in future.

He went on: "This is a passing phase in the history of the Conservative party. I have to believe that this way of behaving is not a Conservative way of behaving, we’re a country that respects limited government, individual rights, we respect the constitution, we respect tradition.

"I’d like to stand as a Conservative for the Conservative party and I have full confidence that the Government will eventually realise that this is no way to treat a party."

A source close to the Tory rebels added: "Tonight’s decisive result is the first step in a process to avert an undemocratic and damaging no deal. 

“No10 have responded by removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson. 

“What has happened to the Conservative Party?’"

The full list of Tory MPs who had the party whip removed are; Anne Milton, Caroline Nokes, Antoinette Sandbach, Rory Stewart, Nicholas Soames, Edward Vaizey, Stephen Hammond, Richard Harrington, Margot James, Oliver Letwin, Guto Bebb, Richard Benyon, Greg Clark, Alistair Burt, Steve Brine, Ken Clarke, Justine Greening, David Gauke, Dominic Grieve, Sam Gyimah and Philip Hammond. 

Earlier on Tuesday, former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt announced they would not stand for the Conservative party in the next general election.

Commenting on his expulsion, Former justice secretary Mr Gauke said: “For the first time in 14 years as an MP I voted against the Conservative Party whip. That whip has now been withdrawn.

"If tonight’s motion had been lost, a no deal Brexit would have been almost inevitable. Probably not a good career move but the right choice.”

Ms Sandbach said on Twitter: “I am elected to act in what I believe is in the best interests of my constituents. I have had the whip taken away from me.

“However there are critical times when you have to do what is right, no matter what the personal consequences. It is hard I won't pretend it isn't.”

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