Tory MP Nick Boles stuns the Commons by quitting party after soft Brexit plan rejected

Posted On: 
1st April 2019

Nick Boles has quit the Conservatives after MPs rejected his plans for a Norway-style soft Brexit.

Nick Boles told MPs he had 'failed'
PA Images

The former minister's proposal for a so-called "Common market 2.0" was rejected for a second time, by 282 votes to 261.

In an emotional statement minutes after the result was announced, the Grantham and Stamford MP said he had "failed because my party refuses to compromise".

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Mr Boles, who had already resigned from his local Conservative association over moves to deselect him, told the Commons: "I've given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion. 

"I accept I have failed. I have failed because my party refuses to compromise. I reret therefore to annnounce that I can no longer sit for this party."

Mr Boles then left the chamber to applause from MPs on the opposition benches.

Under his Brexit plan, the UK would have remained in the EU's customs union and single market after Brexit.

Although it secured the backing of the Labour party, only 33 Tory MPs voted for it.

Resigning from his local association last month, Mr Boles 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."

However, he said he would continue to take the Conservative whip in Parliament if it was offered "acceptable terms".