DR PHILIP LEE has savaged the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, saying he is pursuing a no-deal Brexit that had no democratic mandate.
Earlier this week, the Bracknell MP crossed the floor of the House of Commons while Johnson was speaking at the despatch box. His move meant that he became a Liberal Democrat rather than a Conservative.
Dr Lee has released an open letter to his constituents, which includes parts of Crowthorne, Wokingham Without and Finchampstead, setting out why he felt he had to quit the Conservatives, adding that many residents had written to him saying that the Conservatives had changed.
It was his desire to serve his Bracknell constituents that led him to switch.
He wrote: “Over the last two years, many of you have written to me stating that the Conservative Party no longer represents the views and values that led you to support them, and me, in previous elections. Sadly, I have now reached that same assessment. The Party has been fundamentally changed by the Brexit process.
“I was especially sad to see 21 of my esteemed former Conservative colleagues effectively purged from the Party for standing up for the future of their constituents.
“It is therefore with a very heavy heart, but with a determination that my primary duties are to you, my constituents, and my country, that I have now decided to resign from the Conservative Whip in Parliament.
“I will now represent you as a Liberal Democrat, whose values, such as liberty, justice and community, I now align with much more closely than this version of the Conservative Party.”
He said of Johnson: “The new PM is actively and recklessly pursuing a policy of leaving the EU without having negotiated a deal. This policy was specifically ruled out by all sides during the referendum and has no democratic mandate.”
And on no-deal Brexit he wrote: “It is universally agreed, including by Brexit-supporting ministers, that it will damage our country. I visit many, many businesses and organisations in our constituency and I’ve yet to meet one who think that leaving the EU without an agreement is a good plan. To the contrary, they are usually completely opposed to the idea.”
Earlier this week, The Brexit Party candidate for Bracknell, David Winsper, called for a by-election as a result of Dr Lee defecting, but the sitting MP noted that he wanted to carry on until the General Election.
And Gerry Barber, the chairman of Bracknell Conservatives confirmed there was no need for a by-election.
“Dr Lee and I have spoken and he has confirmed that he left the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Democrats, despite previous assurances that this was not his intention.
“Dr Lee’s decision to defect to the Liberal Democrats does not automatically trigger a by-election in the Constituency and therefore, Dr Lee will sit as a Liberal Democrat MP until the next General Election.
“We are not surprised to hear that he has chosen to leave our party, bearing in mind his statements and inability to support the Government in recent months. We, in the Conservative Party, believe in delivering the democratic vote for Brexit.
“We had been anticipating Dr Lee’s defection, and therefore plans where already underway to identify and shortlist prospective Conservative Parliamentary candidates who can engage with all constituents and members of the Party to represent Bracknell at the next General Election.”
It is not yet known if Dr Lee will stand again.
“Given where we are with the political situation, we cannot be certain when the next General Election will take place. However, I can assure you all that, until that time, I am immensely proud to continue to serve you as your Member of Parliament,” he wrote.