Tobias Ellwood: Tory minister sacked by Boris Johnson in wake of no-deal warnings

Former army officer was hailed as a hero during the Westminster terror attack

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Friday 26 July 2019 16:24 BST
What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood has been sacked from the government as Boris Johnson carried out a brutal reshuffle of his top team.

The former army officer, who was hailed as a hero for his actions during the Westminster terror attack, was removed from his post following continued criticism of the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Ellwood warned that his party would be consigned to the “abyss” for a decade if the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal, as he revealed he had been “invited back to the backbenches” by the new prime minister.

Mr Johnson has launched the most extensive cabinet reshuffle in modern history, installing Brexiteers in the top jobs and clearing out allies of Theresa May.

Tory moderates such as Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and David Gauke, the justice secretary, were ruthlessly removed from the cabinet on Mr Johnson’s first day in office.

Mr Ellwood had become increasingly outspoken about the risks of a no-deal Brexit in recent months, making his departure from government near certain once Mr Johnson was elected as Tory leader.

The Bournemouth East MP, who has previously served in the Foreign Office, said: “I have been very much of a view and have been vocal to say I think a deal is possible given the numbers and where we go. We would be in the abyss for a decade.

“But ultimately you can see the make-up of this government, it’s for a particular challenge and I think – it’s the prime minister’s decision, the make-up of the team, to meet the particular challenge of the day.”

Mr Ellwood warned that Brexit “purists” on the Tory benches were seizing on the possibility of a no-deal outcome as their preferred option.

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Asked if he would vote against a no-deal Brexit, he said: “I’m not going down that route at all. At the moment I’m 100 per cent behind the prime minister and I actually think it’s the duty of every single MP to support the prime minister.

“His objective, his main effort – to use a military term – is to get a deal. The more you big up no deal, which actually isn’t a destination, the more you give some of our pure Brexiteers fuel to say that’s where we should want to go.

“It’s been a very unhelpful debate in playing up no deal.

“It’s not in our manifesto, it wasn’t on the books when Vote Leave was created and it should be avoided at absolutely all costs.”

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