Remainer revolt tears the Tories apart as Brexiteers rage that ‘deselection is too good’ for MPs who humiliated Boris Johnson and could now sabotage his election chances
- Boris Johnson last night lost Commons showdown amid revolt by Remainer MPs
- Some 21 Tory MPs joined the revolt to inflict a stinging defeat on the government
- They were immediately expelled from the party in a brutal act of vengeance
Published: 05:03 EDT, 4 September 2019 | Updated: 07:38 EDT, 4 September 2019
The Tory civil war was raging out of control today as Brexiteers said ‘deselection is too good’ for Remainer rebels who helped defeat the government in a bid to rule out No Deal.
The party is on the verge of an historic split after Boris Johnson wreaked a brutal revenge on 21 MPs who defied him – effectively ending their careers by stripping them of the whip.
The ‘Remainer bloodbath’, which saw eight former Cabinet ministers axed, caused fury among moderates who claim the premier was determined to carry out a ‘purge’ ahead of a snap election.
However, there are concerns that some of those ejected could choose to run as independents – and might damage the Tories’ chances in a poll.
Former chancellor Ken Clarke warned that the Conservatives were being ‘rebadged’ as the Brexit Party.
The ‘Remainer bloodbath’ after the rebellion last night saw senior Tories including Sir Nicholas Soames (left) and Philip Hammond (right) axed
Former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart (pictured on ITV’s GMB today) was also summarily ejected from the Tories
Ex-Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson voiced horror at the expulsion of Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson.
‘How, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there no longer room in the Conservative Party for @NSoames?’ she tweeted.
But there was no sympathy from Eurosceptics, who accused the MPs of giving the EU a ‘veto over when or even whether we leave’.
Nigel Farage said the punishment was an ‘act of leadership’.
Tory MP Henry Smith told MailOnline: ‘I think it is outrageous that those MPs have defied the clear democratically expressed will of the British people.’
Mr Smith said the PM was ‘absolutely’ right to deselect those who sided with the Opposition.
‘This is a matter of the most fundamental trust. The PM and I and all other Conservative MPs have now stood twice on manifesto promises that a referendum would be held and the result would be honoured.
‘They have reneged on the decision of the British people to leave the EU and their election manifestos. Deselection is almost too good for them.’
Mr Smith admitted that some could opt to run again as independents in an election. He said: ‘They can do what they like, but I think it might be the last we will see of them.’
Former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart called the decision to throw him out of the party ‘astonishing’.
He received the news of his sacking as he was being given the GQ award for politician of the year.
‘It came by text,’ the Penrith and the Border MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘It was a pretty astonishing moment. Remember, only a few weeks ago I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Boris Johnson and I was in the Cabinet. And it has all gone very quickly in six weeks.
Boris Johnson wreaked a brutal revenge on 21 MPs who defied him – effectively ending their careers by stripping them of the whip
‘It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries – one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one’s seat too.’
Mr Stewart said there were ’30 or 40′ other Tories who had been wanting to block No Deal but were cowed into backing the PM by the deselection threats.
The latest shocking developments began when Mr Johnson lost a crunch vote at around 10pm, giving a rebel alliance control of Commons business with the aim of passing a law to stop the UK crashing out of the EU at the end of October, by an unexpectedly large margin of 328 to 301.
The scale of the Tory rebellion was larger than many at Westminster had expected, with the ‘aggressive’ government tactics failing to whittle down numbers.
The combative attitude of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg during the debate on the business motion seemed to infuriate many who were wavering.
The roll call of rebels included ex-Chancellor Mr Hammond, who has already vowed to fight efforts to deselect him, as well as former ministers Justine Greening and Alistair Burt – who both pre-empted their punishments earlier by announcing they would be standing down at the election.
Other Cabinet veterans were Sir Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve, Mr Clarke, Greg Clark, Rory Stewart, and Caroline Nokes.
A Downing Street spokesman said last night: ‘The Chief Whip is speaking with those Tory MPs who did not vote with the Government this evening. They will have the whip removed.’
A rebel source said No10 was ‘removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson’.
‘What has has happened to the Conservative Party?’ they added.