Rebel Tory MP has whip removed for voting with Labour on energy bills

‘I won’t apologise’, says Anne Marie Morris after siding with opposition on VAT cut

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 12 January 2022 09:57
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<p>Anne Marie Morris (UK Parliament/PA)</p>

Anne Marie Morris (UK Parliament/PA)

Boris Johnson has seen his parliamentary majority reduced after the Conservatives removed the party whip from a backbencher who voted with Labour over the cost of living crisis.

Anne Marie Morris will now sit in the Commons as an independent after she voted for Labour’s opposition day motion proposing a VAT cut on energy bills on Tuesday.

“It is deeply disappointing to have had the whip removed by the government – especially on a matter of simply standing up for what I believed to be the best interests of my constituents,” Mr Morris said on Wednesday.

The MP for Newton Abbot added: “I believe removing VAT is the right thing to do and I won’t apologise for supporting measures that would help my hard-working constituents at a time when the cost of living is rising.”

A group of 20 Tories have already called for VAT to be cut from fuel bills, but the government said it could not allow a Tory MP to vote for a motion letting Labour seize control of the Commons order paper.

“This motion was clearly put forward to seize control of parliament business, which we cannot accept,” a government official told Politico.

It is the second time that Ms Morris has had the Tory whip removed. She was briefly suspended in 2017 for using the phrase a “real n***** in the woodpile” at a meeting about Brexit, but had the whip restored after for “using such inappropriate and offensive language”.

Ms Morris said she would remain “strongly committed to Conservative principles” but would vote on the issues of the day “in the best interests of my constituents”.

The rebel MP added: “I’m afraid I believe that any disagreement over parliamentary procedure will always come second to standing up for the best interests of my constituents.”

Last week a group of 20 Tory MPs and peers penned an open letter asking the chancellor Rishi Sunak to scrap VAT and green levies on rapidly-rising energy bills.

Jake Berry, leader of the Northern Research Group (NRG), said on Wednesday he wanted the government to freeze council tax and take the poorest households out of the coming 1.25 per cent national insurance tax rise, as well as ditching green levies.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have called for a windfall tax on oil and gas profits in a bid to cut average household energy costs set to soar further in April.

Unions, charities and green groups have also urged the government to impose a levy on North Sea giants. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told The Independent: “Using a windfall tax on profits would help address the cost-of-living crisis and alleviate domestic gas bills.”

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