Tory MP Dominic Grieve vows to 'continue as before' as he suffers local no confidence vote
Tory MP Dominic Grieve has vowed to continue working in "the national interest" after losing a confidence vote held by his local party.
The Conservative association in Mr Grieve’s Beaconsfield constituency said it no longer had confidence in the MP by 182 to 131 votes at its annual general meeting on Friday.
The move against Mr Grieve, a prominent Remain-supporter on the Conservative benches, paves the way for the association to decide whether or not he will be able to put his name forward to stand for the seat at the next election.
Speaking to LBC Radio after the vote, Mr Grieve said Brexit had become a "divisive issue" that was "bound" to highlight divisions in local parties.
But he added: "I can’t escape the conclusion that quite a few of the people who turned up at the meeting were individuals I’d never seen previously in the association at any function or part of it.
"And there is some evidence - I think quite a lot of evidence, that the local association has in the last twelve months attracted a large number of members who appear to have been encouraged to join by [Leave.EU founder Arron] Banks.
“So I think there is a background problem in relation to people joining for very specific purposes."
The efforts to deselect Mr Grieve have reportedly been led by the man who stood against him as Ukip candidate in the 2017 general election, Jon Conway.
Mr Conway said he was recruited by the Conservative party after serving as a regional organiser for Vote Leave but “took the decision to ‘fight City Hall from within’ in a leaked email seen by The Times.
The newspaper also cited a leaked “aide memoire” to Beaconsfield Tories attending yesterday’s AGM urging opponents of Mr Grieve not to “get into argument about whether we should be in the EU or not”.
Mr Conway told The Times after the vote: “I would like to see him stand against other candidates to choose a new MP.
“I feel vindicated that we represented the majority feeling in the constituency. I’m not gloating, I just think he and the local Conservative association have to listen to voters.”
Pressed on his next move after the vote, Mr Grieve said: "I continue entirely as before, as I said to the meeting. I noted the comments that were made. But I’m doing my best to represent my constituents and to act to what I see as the national interest and I’m not going to be deflected from doing that job.
He added: "It’s part of the absolute core role of being a member of parliament. What happens in respect of my association members is really a matter for them. I can’t comment on it."
Mr Grieve was one of the MPs behind the cross-party move to give the Commons a series of indicative votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
His defeat in the confidence vote prompted support from fellow Conservatives and sympathetic MPs from other parties.
Prominent Remain-backing ally Anna Soubry, now of the Independent Group of MPs, tweeted: “This is disgraceful. More evidence that the uncompromising dogmatic right is running the Conservatives. Dominic Grieve is one of the finest, most courageous Parliamentarians ever - who has always put his country first & championed all his constituents.”
Conservative Tom Tugendhat said: "Few in Parliament have contributed as much to public life as Dominic Grieve. As attorney general and chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee he has served our country dutifully for decades. He deserves thanks and praise, not this."
Labour’s Stella Creasy added: "I’m in a different political party to Dominic. We disagree on many things. I doubt Beaconsfield conservatives could find someone more experienced, more capable and more principled than him for their MP.”
Mr Grieve has held his seat since 1997 and won 65.3 per cent of the vote at the last general election.
The chair of the Beaconsfield Conservative Constituency Association, Jackson Ng, said in a statement: "Our members had a robust discussion with our MP, Dominic Grieve QC on Brexit before voting on a motion of confidence in him as our MP, which I can confirm, with a heavy heart that he failed to retain,”
"He remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow Officers and the Executive Council."