‘This is the end of the Conservatives’ says Heidi Allen as Boris Johnson suffers Brexit vote defeat
Heidi Allen, the independent MP for South Cambridgeshire, believes a humiliating defeat for Prime Minister Boris Johnson signals the end of the Conservative Party as we know it.
Some 21 rebel Tories defied the government to vote with opposition members in favour of a motion that gives MPs control of the Parliamentary timetable on Wednesday (September 4).
The government lost the vote by 328 to 321 - a bigger defeat than many predicted.
MPs will now vote to extend the Brexit deadline from October 31 to the end of January 2020 in a move designed to prevent the country leaving the EU without a deal in place.
The Prime Minister responded by announcing that the government would table a motion for a general election.
Meanwhile, the whip was withdrawn from rebel MPs, including Sir Winston Churchill's grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, and former Chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond.
That prompted Ms Allen, who left the Tories in February, to tweet: “This is officially the end of the Conservatives - thank God I got out when I did.”
Some commentators suggested withdrawing the whip from these Conservatives meant the long-held divisions between pro-European and Eurosceptic wings of the party had finally wrenched the party apart.
Ms Allen said: “The government falling apart today was an inevitable consequence of ego and a sense of entitlement getting too close to power. The British people don’t like bullies and MPs don’t either.”
Mr Johnson had warned rebel MPs in advance that they would have the whip removed if they voted against the government in what was his first vote as PM. It was a tactic that appeared to backfire.
Meanwhile, Ms Allen also took aim at arch-Brexiteer and leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, who slumped down on the front bench in apparent disdain at what was going on around him.
Earlier, Ms Allen had accused Mr Rees-Mogg of “staggering arrogance”.
The Prime Minister accused MPs who voted for the motion of "wrecking" the government's chances of securing a deal with the EU by indicating its unwillingness to contemplate a no-deal Brexit.
He said if MPs vote to delay Brexit on Wednesday there would be no option but to let the country decide how to proceed via a General Election, which could be held on October 14.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told him he wanted to see a Bill passed taking no deal off the table first.
Two-thirds of MPs - 434 - would have to vote in favour of a General Election in order for one to happen under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, which means the Prime Minister would need about half of Labour MPs to vote in favour of it.
The night’s dramatic events in the Commons left Cambridge's Labour MP Daniel Zeichner feeling more hopeful.
“I am pleased that MPs have taken control of the Parliamentary timetable,” he said.
“This means on Wednesday we will vote on a law to stop no-deal Brexit by extending the Brexit deadline to the end of January 2020. It is one step at a time but we are getting there.
“The stakes could not be higher. This is about the future of Cambridge jobs and the economy, if we can get the medicine we need if we are ill and about Britain’s place in the world.”
The Prime Minister lost his working Commons majority earlier in the day, when Remainer MP Dr Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrats.
On Saturday, hundreds took to the streets in Cambridge to protest against the prorogation of Parliament - which ends the current term - and campaign against Brexit.