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Tory MP threatens to quit to wipe out Boris Johnson’s majority

A Tory MP has threatened to defect to the Liberal Democrats over Brexit, removing Boris Johnson’s majority in Parliament.

Phillip Lee, the MP for Bracknell, has said he will spend the summer break considering whether to leave the Conservative party over its position on Brexit.

The nine year incumbent said he has felt alienated with the party’s shift towards a no-deal Brexit since the election of Boris Johnson.

Speaking on a podcast with Tory MP Sam Gyimah, he was asked whether he would consider defecting to the Liberal Democrats under their new leader Jo Swinson.

Dr Lee said: ‘At the moment I’m increasingly feeling politically homeless.

‘The party I joined was the party of John Major and John Major, I think, is probably feeling like this judging by his contributions in recent weeks.

‘I’m really not comfortable about my party pushing for no-deal Brexit without proper consent of the public.’

His announcement came shortly before the victory of Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on Thursday which reduced the Tories majority to just one.

Ms Dodds won the Welsh constituency by a margin of 1,425, gaining 43% of the vote as the Conservatives won 39%, with the Brexit party taking 10% of the vote.

Dr Lee, who supports a second referendum, highlighted on Wednesday’s podcast that an extreme no-deal position may alienate voters and prevent the Conservatives from winning elections.

He continued: ‘Purely on the national interest, I think it’s wrong to do this. But party politically I think it’s narrowing our base in a way that I don’t see how we win elections.

‘And if you don’t win elections in a democracy you don’t have power and you can’t do things you want to do. It’s just simple reality.

‘I’m sort of sitting here, looking on and -yeah – I’m going to spend the summer thinking a lot.’

Thursday’s by-election was held after the successful recall of incumbent Tory Chris Davies following his conviction for submitting false expenses invoices for £700 worth of photographs for his office.

The Conservative’s grip on a majority in Parliament now hangs on just one MP as they currently hold a majority of 319 MPs to 318 in opposition, excluding seven Sinn Fein MPs who do not take their seats in Parliament.

This tenuous majority includes 10 DUP MPs who agreed to vote with the Tories on matters of confidence and spending, also known as supply.

If the Bracknell MP did defect to the Liberal Democrats, Boris Johnson would lose his majority overnight.

Dr Lee was the first minister to resign over the government’s handling of Brexit when he resigned as Justice Minister in 2018.

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