Stephen Hammond: Tory MP sacked as a Conservative vice-chairman after Brexit rebellion

'I’m an old lag so nothing can really work for me I’m afraid,' ex-minister says of whips' efforts to persuade him

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 13 December 2017 21:19
Tory MP Stephen Hammond defies whip to give Parliament meaningful say on Brexit

Tory MP Stephen Hammond has been sacked as a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party after he rebelled against the Government on a key Brexit vote.

The former transport minister voted in favour of Dominic Grieve’s amendment seven, to back his attempt to ensure MPs have a “meaningful vote” on the withdrawal deal.

Before the news broke, Mr Hammond said the rebels had been prepared to work with the Government to ensure a meaningful vote.

On Sky News, he went on: “It’s disappointing, it gives me no pleasure to vote against the Government but I’ve made it very clear that for me, this was a point of principle and just occasionally in one’s life one has to put principle before party.

“I know that sounds pompous but I’ve never done it before.”

A total of 11 Conservative rebels voted to change Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Bill against her wishes – tipping the balance against the Government by just four votes.

Mr Grieve, the former attorney general, advanced an amendment that will guarantee MPs a “meaningful” vote on any Brexit deal she strikes with the EU.

Mr Hammond said any pressure applied by Tory whips had not worked.

“You know, I’m an old lag so nothing can really work for me I’m afraid,” he said.

“I had told the Government that this is what I intended to do unless we got the concessions I was looking for and therefore I’m afraid with a heavy heart I voted against the Government.”

Mr Hammond added: “I think the Government could have been a little bit swifter of foot, I think there was a way out of this, we were all very close but the Government chose not to move that way.”

He later tweeted: “Very disappointed to no longer be vice chairman of the Conservative Party for London. It was a huge honour and I’ll continue to campaign across our capital in the run up to the borough elections next year.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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