Tory MP Phillip Lee has announced he is defecting from the party to join the Liberal Democrats – a situation which means that Boris Johnson’s Conservative government have just lost their working majority in Parliament, even with the support of the DUP.
Writing on Twitter, Tory MP Phillip Lee – who is an ardent supporter of the UK remaining in the European Union – announced his resignation citing concerns around the “direction of the Conservative Party”.
Lee’s letter to the Prime Minister states:
“After a great deal of thought, I have reached the conclusion that it is no longer possible to serve my constituents’ and the country’s best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament.”
“This has been a very difficult decision and one I have not taken lightly. Over 27 years ago I joined the Conservative & Unionist Party led by Sir John Major. Since 2010 I have had the immense privelege of representing the Bracknell Constituency in Parliament. It was also an honour to serve as a Government Minister for two years working to improve our justice system.”
“From our recent conversations, you will know that I have had concerns over the approach and direction of the Conservative Party since the EU Referendum took place in 2016. The Conservative Party that attracted me to join it as a young man was a broad political church. Over the years members have had differenct views on individual issues but we were all bound together by sound conservative principles of careful governance, responsible reform, respect for the rule of law, protecting our home union and sound stewardship of the economy.”
“Sadly, the Brexit process has helped to transform this once great Party in to something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual’s ‘conservatism’ is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union. Perhaps most disappointingly, it has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism.”
“This is not personal – there are very many good people in the Party and on the Government benches. However, each of us must stand and be counted and ultimately do what we think is in our country’s and constituency’s best interests. This is why today I am joining Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats. I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society – and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations.”
After a great deal of thought, I have reached the conclusion that it is no longer possible to serve my constituents’ and country’s best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament. My letter to the Prime Minister: pic.twitter.com/0QreSbSdwR
— Dr Phillip Lee MP (@DrPhillipLeeMP) September 3, 2019
Before Lee’s defection, Boris Johnson’s Tories had a majority of just one single MP in the House of Commons.
However, the government is now a de-facto minority administration – even with their ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the DUP remaining in place.