Phillip Lee, the Conservative MP for Bracknell, has lost a vote of no confidence in him by his local Conservative association. The vote was called after 53 members signed a petition. Lee resigned as Justice Minister a year ago in protest against Brexit. His support for a second referendum is clearly the cause of the disquiet in his Association.
The vote leaves Lee’s position unclear. He has not been deselected. Nor has the Conservative whip been withdrawn from him. Yet nor would it be plausible to continue as if nothing had happened. In March a motion of no confidence was passed against Dominic Grieve by the Beaconsfield Conservatives. Grieve’s executive decided against dropping him as their candidate, but this has been followed up with a move for deselection by the membership. So his fate is unresolved. Again with the case of Nick Boles in Grantham and Stamford a deselection did not actually take place. The process was started but then Boles resigned his membership and later crossed the floor.
Gerry Barber, the Bracknell Conservative Association chairman said:
“The result of the vote was that a majority of members present were in agreement with the motion, which was therefore passed, and the result has been communicated to Dr Lee and to the full membership. I will be discussing the meeting with Phillip later this week.”
In a statement, Lee says:
“In the future, I may or may not decide that I can continue serving as a Conservative Member of Parliament and the Bracknell Conservative Association may or may not decide that they wish to readopt me as the Conservative Party’s candidate. But one thing is for sure: we will not be forced into taking a decision one way or the other by this orchestrated, destructive campaign from outside the Party that has done nothing but spread hatred, intimidation and distrust over a single issue. That is not the Conservative way; it is not the Bracknell way. Meanwhile, the people of the Bracknell constituency can rely on my absolute commitment to serving our area’s best interests in Parliament, without fear or favour, and then take into account my full record at the next General Election.”
This is unlikely to be last such saga.