Outspoken Conservative MP Jesse Norman has been sacked from his role as a member of the Number 10 policy board after he rebelled against the Government in the vote on military action in Syria.
Downing Street was described as being “sad” to lose Mr Norman, but is keen to make it clear that voting against the party is not without its consequences – particularly for someone appointed by the Prime Minister to help bring the Tories success in the next general election.
A Number 10 source said: “Jesse has done some very good work on the policy board but he couldn't support the Government on a three-line whip the other day, so he has left that position.”
Mr Norman has for some time been seen as a rising star within the party, but he has been in the news before for clashing with the Conservative leadership on an important vote.
In July 2012 David Cameron was reported to have approached the MP “in a very aggressive manner” and upbraided him for voting against the Government on Lords reform.
On Syria, he was among some 30 Conservatives and nine Lib Dems who went against the Coalition’s stance on some form of military intervention in principle – a motion which was defeated by just 13.
Mr Cameron set up the policy board of advisors in April, and tasked it with coming up with new ideas for the party. Mr Norman was reportedly one of the key members of the team, and The Spectator quoted an unnamed Tory colleague today expressing anger over the decision to get rid of him.
He or she said: “To sack him over a moral issue like whether to support war is outrageous. If he had rebelled on a legislative issue I could understand but instead he acted on principle and reflected the vast majority of the public.”
Meanwhile in Prime Minister’s Questions today, Mr Cameron expressed his “regret” over Ed Miliband’s stance on Syria, and accused the Labour leadership of “dividing” the Commons on its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons.
Mr Miliband countered by implying that the Prime Minister had been seeking a “rush into war”, in a heated exchange which nonetheless did little to advance the UK’s position on the ongoing crisis.