William Hague warns Tories against 'poison' of de-selections as bid to oust Nick Boles gets underway

Posted On: 
12th February 2019

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague has warned his party against indulging in the "poison" of de-selections as a bid to oust Brexit rebel MP Nick Boles got underway.

Tory activists have threatened to deselect Remain-backing MPs.
PA Images

Mr Boles - who has vowed to resign the Tory whip if the Government pursues a no-deal Brexit and co-authored an attempt to press for the extension of Article 50 - is facing a push from his local Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association to ditch him.

Grantham and Stamford Conservative Chairman Philip Sagar told PoliticsHome last night that there had been a "unanimous vote to start the process of selecting the parliamentary candidate for the next election" with Mr Boles now having to say whether he wants to stand as a candidate again.

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But Lord Hague - who led the Tories from 1997 until 2001 - urged party members not to "venture down the same single-track road" as Labour, which has seen several high-profile no-confidence bids launched against MPs critical of leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Writing in the Telegraph, the Tory grandee said MPs should not have "carte blanche for life" from their local activists, particularly if they were "not applying themselves to serving their constituents".

"But attempts to deny the party nomination to MPs who take a different view from the majority or the leadership are another matter, and can poison a party from the inside," he warned.

"You can see this very clearly from current events in Labour, where the approach of possible re-selection meetings this year is contributing to the growing speculation about a new splinter party."

Pointing specifically to Mr Boles' plight, Lord Hague warned: "He is very obviously an intelligent and active MP, whether one agrees with him or not, and has busied himself trying to find a solution to our current intractable problems.

"If any activist thinks the party would be better off without such an individual, they need their head examining."

Mr Boles has previously vowed to fight any attempt to remove him as an MP, saying: "I won’t be bullied."

In a message on his website, he wrote: "I am always ready to engage with members of the local Conservative association and hear their views on Brexit or anything else. Most of the time we will probably agree.

"But when we don’t, and when I think your interests demand that I break with my party, my Prime Minister or members [of] my local association, then that is exactly what I will do."

Confused by the Tory rules on deselecting an MP? We've put together a handy explainer