Philip Hammond promises Number 10 'the fight of a lifetime' if they try to oust him from Tory party
Philip Hammond has promised to give Number 10 "the fight of a lifetime" if they try to oust him from the party.
The defiant ex-chancellor said he would consider legal action against Boris Johnson if he went through with his threat to deselect any rebel Tory MPs who Tuesday's opposition bid to extend the Brexit deadline.
He also mounted a stinging attack on "Brexiteer entryists" who he said were attempting to turn the party into a "narrow faction".
His comments come after the Prime Minister warned Tory MPs they would have the whip withdrawn if they backed the bid, while a government source confirmed their intention to call for a snap general election if they lose the crunch Commons showdown on Tuesday.
But Mr Hammond, who was reselected by his Runnymede and Weybridge Conservative Association on Monday, said he did not believe Tory HQ would be able to force him from his seat as he vowed they would face "the fight of a lifetime if they tried to".
Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, the senior Tory said: "A lot of my colleagues have come under immense pressure, some of them have responded to that pressure by saying: 'Enough, I am going'.
"That is not going to be my approach. This is my party. I have been a member of this party for 45 years. I am going to defend my party against incomers, entryists who are trying to turn it from a broad church into a narrow faction."
He added: "People who are at the heart of this government who are probably not even members of the Conservative Party, who care nothing about the future of the Conservative party.
"I intend to defend my party against them."
His remarks followed confirmation from former education secretary Justine Greening that she would step down as an MP at the next election.
Ms Greening, who also vowed to back the opposition bid, said she believed a new election was a "lose-lose" situation for the country as she warned her party would not be able to offer voters a "sensible choice".
But Mr Hammond insisted enough MPs would defy Number 10's threats to back the new extension bill, saying he thought "there will be enough people for us to get this over the line today".
He added: "Many colleagues have been incensed by some of the actions over the last week or so.
"I think there's a group of Conservatives who feel very strongly that now is a time where we have to put the national interest ahead of any threats to us personally or to our careers."
And he took aim at Boris Johnson's suggestion that the plot could undermine progress made in talks with EU leaders as "disingenuous".
“There is no progress,” he said. “There are no substantive negotiations going on… Brussels, Berlin, Paris are still waiting for the UK proposal”.