A CAMPAIGN to unseat Remain-supporting MP Dr Phillip Lee has almost gained enough support to force a deselection meeting and organisers said that they make no apologies for doing so.
Pressure group Leave.eu has been calling on its members to target Conservative MPs who are “obstructing the will of the people” by voting against the country leaving the European Union.
It instructs its Leave-supporting members of the Conservative party to call for a special general meeting of their local party, where they can then post a motion of no confidence in their MP – and that includes Dr Lee, who is calling for a second referendum.
Conservative activists in Bracknell are doing a fantastic job, now just 10 signatures shy of petitioning their local chairman to hold a vote of no confidence in Remoaner @DrPhillipLeeMP.
Tory members in Bracknell, email us at email@example.com if you want to see the back of Phillip!
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) April 3, 2019
Leave.eu’s website says: “We are building a network of Tory Party Members agitating to get their Remainer MP booted out”.
The party has already seen former Attorney General Dominic Grieve undergo the process. Now the focus is on the Bracknell Conservative Association, which includes parts of Wokingham Without and Finchampstead which fall within Wokingham borough.
Dr Lee has made no secret of his desire for the UK stay within the European Union: last year, he resigned from the Government and is now chair of the Right To Vote UK, which is campaigning for a new referendum to allow the British public to have a say on Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal. (Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency includes parts of Sonning, Twyford, Ruscombe and Wargrave).
A spokesperson for Leave.eu told The Wokingham Paper that in 2017, Dr Lee stood on a Conservative manifesto promising to respect the result of the referendum and leave the European Union and this should be stuck to.
They added: “In the past week he has voted in favour of yet another referendum, to revoke Article 50 and indeed to block a clean break from Brussels on April 12.
“If he no longer agrees with the promises he made which saw him elected he should resign and trigger a so-called People’s Vote in his own constituency.
“We are not forcing local associations to do anything. The deselection campaign in Bracknell is a grassroots initiative spearheaded by long-standing members of the Conservative Party who are rightly furious with Dr Lee and indeed other Conservatives attempting to defy the will of the British people.
“Following our successful campaigns against Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, we have been inundated with support from across the country. The campaign in Bracknell is hotting up and reports from our lead organiser suggest a petition being circulated among Conservative members is almost at the required stage where the local association chairman will be obliged to convene a Special General Meeting to debate a motion of no confidence in Dr Lee.
“Bracknell voted 53% to leave the European Union and Lee’s constituents deserve better. The division between the parliamentary party and its grassroots has never been greater. We make no apologies for campaigning to make the Conservative Party conservative again, seat by seat.”
But Dr Lee has hit back at the proposal, saying that Leave.eu is pursuing this course of action purely for its own aims.
“This is a campaign by an organisation, Leave.EU that far, from having the best interests of the Conservative Party at heart, only seeks to disrupt our unity for its own narrow political gain,” he said.
“To this end they have deliberately encouraged their followers to join my association with the sole purpose of sowing that disruption.
“It is obviously disappointing that some existing members, including those who are seeking office under a Conservative banner, have chosen to throw in their lot with these incomers. To them I say, think again – who are you benefiting?
“Will it be your friends and colleagues, some of them councillors who will shortly be fighting one of the most difficult local election campaigns for a generation? Or will it be an external organisation, with opaque funding, that wishes to see the demise of our Party?”
Bracknell Conservatives chairman Gerry Barber said that the party was consumed with the forthcoming local elections on May 2, and any special meeting would take place afterwards.
He told The Wokingham Paper: “I haven’t received any petitions from members.
“Where we stand is that our focus is very much on the local elections.
“What is going on in Westminster is a complete and utter shambles, but our focus is on what we are delivering locally, including more money for schools and maintaining green spaces and continuing to make sure that Bracknell is a great place.”
Mr Barber was recently elected as the local association chairman at the group’s AGM.
“I said that all members have a right to be heard,” he said. “All members have a voice. But I haven’t received a petition from members.”
He added that should a petition be received, it would be dealt with appropriately. A special meeting would have to be convened no later than 28 days after its receipt, as outlined in its constitution: “There are very strict guidelines that have to be followed to the letter”.
And Mr Barber wouldn’t be drawn on his own views. “As chairman, I have to take a balanced view for my members,” he said.
However, some party members have been vocal on social media.
One said: “What a halfwit Dr Philip Lee is. He needs to be deselected for someone that supports the will of the people, supports the government manifesto and isn’t out for themselves!”
Another said: “Deselect him. I was a remainder and live in Bracknell. He should go.”
A third said: “Resign as mp so we can get a government that can deal for the people who voted out”.
There have been similar calls on Twitter:
Guto Bebb. Steve Brine. Alistair Burt. Kenneth Clarke. Jonathan Djanogly. Justine Greening. Dominic Grieve. Sam Gyimah. Richard Harrington. Phillip Lee.
— Matthew Swann (@Dr_MatthewSwann) April 4, 2019
Disgraceful! The WTO is our BEST option. What is the matter with you?
Deselect Phillip Lee MP now!
— white hat for truth (@2020Maple) April 3, 2019
Phillip Lee you have helped to destroy my faith in British democracy.
You should be ashamed
— Oscar Simpson (@MrWoscars) April 3, 2019
result . And we are coming for you too Dr Phillip Lee . Deselection is your future #votethief .
— karen cox (@karenco12011159) April 2, 2019
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