Labour cattiness greeted by chorus of jeers

Seven "vindictive" Labour MPs who called on Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the multi-millionaire composer, to fulfil his so-called promise to quit Britain if Labour wins the general election, came under fire from Conservatives last night.

Angry Tories claimed that the MPs, whose Commons motion effectively said "good riddance" to Sir Andrew, were predicting a new brain drain in a Labour-ruled Britain. They described the signatories to the motion as "churlish, envious and jealous".

But a spokeswoman for the composer - who became a life peer in the New Year's Honours list - said he had no plans to live outside the UK: "He's being introduced to the House of Lords next week, so it's hardly the action of someone who is likely to leave the country."

The motion says the possibility of Sir Andrew leaving the country "provides an extra incentive to vote Labour" and that the MPs "look forward to Sir Andrew keeping his promise".

But John Butcher, Tory MP for Coventry South West, said: "It is churlish and spiteful and reveals Labour's old prejudice against successful people. Sadly, Sir Andrew could be followed by thousands of successful industrialists if Labour gets in."

Harry Greenway, Conservative MP for Ealing North, said: "If Sir Andrew goes, he would take huge talent with him. This would be the second brain drain".

Tony Banks, Labour MP for Newham North West, who sponsored the motion, described Sir Andrew's reported threat to leave the United Kingdom if Labour was elected as "arrogant in the extreme".

He said he wanted to see the back of Sir Andrew "because that's the best view".