MP Soames to lose Tory whip after rebelling over no-deal Brexit

Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames
Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames

Mid Sussex’s MP is set to lose the Tory whip after rebelling against the Government over a no-deal Brexit and also confirmed he will not stand for election again.

Conservative Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, has represented the area in Parliament since 1997, having previously been MP for Crawley for 14 years.

During an extraordinary day at Westminster, Sir Nicholas was one of 21 Tory MPs to vote against the Government and back a motion to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost Tuesday night’s vote in the Commons by 328 votes to 301.

Speaking afterwards on BBC’s Newsnight, Sir Nicholas explained he had been told by the chief whip if he voted against the Government he would have the whip removed on Wednesday.

He added: “As a Conservative Member of Parliament, I have voted against a Conservative Government three times in 37 years and I have had the whip removed. That’s fortunes of war and I knew what I was doing but I just believe that they are not playing straight with us.

“To say you want a deal is quite different from saying you want a deal that is achievable. And what he [Boris Johnson] wants is not achievable.”

Sir Nicholas then confirmed he will not stand again at the next general election.

This could be as soon as mid October, although this would need the backing of two-thirds of MPs to happen, with Labour suggesting it would only back a general election if no-deal was taken completely off the table first.

A Commons debate is now set to be held on a bill to delay Brexit, with a vote on whether or not to hold a general election expected to follow.

After the outcome of the vote was announced Mr Johnson told MPs: “It means that Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal that we might be able to strike with Brussels, because tomorrow’s Bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU. That would mean more dither, more delay and more confusion, and it would mean that the EU itself would be able to decide how long to keep this country in the EU.

“Since I refuse to go along with that plan, we are going to have to make a choice. I do not want an election. The public do not want an election. I do not believe the right hon. Member for Islington North wants an election. But if the House votes for the Bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on 17 October to sort this out and take this country forward.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded: I” welcome tonight’s vote. We live in a parliamentary democracy. We do not have a presidency; we have a Prime Minister. Prime Ministers govern with the consent of the House of Commons representing the people in whom sovereignty rests.

“There is no consent in this House to leave the EU without a deal. There is no majority for no deal in the country. As I have said before, if the Prime Minister has confidence in his Brexit policy — when he has one he can put forward — he should put it before the people in a public vote. So he wants to table a motion for a general election. Fine — get the bill through first in order to take no deal off the table.”

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