Pressure group Leave.eu calling for Dr Phillip Lee’s deselection for being a Remainer

Local Conservative party members being urged to sign a petition calling for his removal from office

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.

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:

 

What do you think? Send your views to letters@wokinghampaper.co.uk or reply to this article below. 

 

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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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9 Comments

  1. This is the same Leave.EU that was fined £70,000 for breaking electoral spending laws and was later referred to the National Crime Agency over the source of money used to fund Leave.EU. Plus £60,000 for using private data to illegally send political marketing messages. I wonder if the NCA has identified who is funding them now?

    In the light of the lawbreaking by leave campaigners, it’s great that people like Dr Lee are standing up for democracy in this country.

    1. What a strange view of democracy you have! If Dr. Lee had the good grace to campaign that he was fighting the last election on a personal Remain ticket rather than the Conservative Manifesto of honouring the Leave result from the 2016 Referendum, he wouldn’t be in this position now. He’s lost his credibility with many of the local electorate – how can you vote for someone who thinks that being elected means he can just represent his own views?

      1. Ah, rather like John Redwood who represents a Remain constituency and ignores their views?

        The Leaver view of democracy is certainly unique. No coherent view of what Leave means, quite happy with interference by foreign powers in the democratic process, seeking to prevent another referendum now there is a clear view of the damage Leave will do to the country.

  2. Philip Lee made my vote to leave the EU as irrelevant even though he said he would respect the will of the people. He has not once supported the leave vote in his area but just supported his personal view. If that his intention he should not stand to be a representative of his constituency…

  3. Dr Lee has revoked the right to be called my MP he has made me feel my vote was irrelevant and has never once addressed the people that voted to leave the EU or supported the will of the people in this area……even after he promised to respect the results of the referendum…..

  4. Dr Philip Lee stood on the Conservative Manifesto which promised to honour the country decision to leave the EU . Leave the EU based on the government’s own leaflet delivered to every household . Leave the Custom Union , Leave the Single Market . he is arrogant and belives that vote was foolish . He is belives himself unaccountable . Well lets see Dr Lee . Hopefully we will see democracy in action when you are deselected Sir . # votetheif

    1. It’s either deselection or electoral humiliation at the polls next time around and I don’t think with their disgraceful record over the last two years the Conservatives can afford that.

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