Tory Brexit splits deepen as Sarah Wollaston and Sir Alan Duncan facing deselection votes

Posted On: 
18th February 2019

Two more Conservative MPs - including a serving minister - are to face deselection votes led by Brexiteers in the coming weeks, it has emerged.

The latest deselection bids follow a similar push against former minister Nick Boles.

The Telegraph reports that both Sarah Wollaston, a vocal Tory champion of a second Brexit referendum, and Sir Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office minister who has regularly criticised top Brexiteers, are facing eurosceptic bids to oust them.

The move follows a similar push against former minister Nick Boles, who has led Commons efforts to push for an extension to Article 50 and pursue a Norway-style softer Brexit.

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A letter signed by more than 50 members of Dr Wollaston's local party calls for an extraordinary meeting to oust her, and will be presented to the local party chairman on Monday.

Local activist Rupert Hanmer Grant said members were calling for the vote of no-confidence because Dr Wollaston was "playing fast and loose with our constitutional arrangements" and "making a nonsense of the democratic process" with her support for a second referendum.

Tory members are also teeing up a second effort to oust Dr Wollaston at the party's annual general meeting on March 30, the Telegraph reports.

Sir Alan has meanwhile already been readopted as his local party's candidate. But the FCO minister will face a fresh motion of no confidence at his party's annual meeting.

A friend of the Rutland and Melton MP told the Telegraph: "If they don’t like him then they don’t like the Conservative party. They should push off to Farage’s new Brexit party."

The moves against two senior Tories come amid heightened tensions in the party over Brexit. Dr Wollaston, who has been targeted by the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign founded by Arron Banks, warned over the weekend that former Ukip members were now 'busy taking over" the Conservative Party.

And she accused the Tory leadership of taking "zero interest in this blatant entryism".

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage on Sunday revealed that 100,000 people had expressed an interest in his newly-created Brexit Party since its launch - and claimed that two Tory MPs had expressed their support for it.

That came after minister Richard Harrington said eurosceptic hardliners in his own party should quit the Conservatives and join the new outfit.

He told the House magazine: "I read that Nigel Farage is setting up a new party called Brexit and if I were them I’d be looking at that, because that seems to reflect their views more than the Conservative Party does.

"They should read carefully what that party's got to offer because in my view, they’re not Conservatives."

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