The Wokingham Paper

Special meeting to be held in bid to deselect Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee

Dr Phillip lee
Leave.eu is campaigning to have Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee deselected for his stance on Europe

A MOVE to deselect one of the borough’s four MPs has been blasted as “a threat to our democracy”.

Dr Phillip Lee has said that he will not attend an extraordinary general meeting called by the Bracknell Conservative Association following a campaign by pressure group Leave.Eu. The meeting will discuss whether the Association has confidence in Dr Lee as their MP.

We revealed in April that Bracknell Conservative members had been writing to the group’s chairman to call for the meeting. It is understood that more than half the people who signed the letter joined the Association since August last year.

The threshold for triggering that meeting – 10% of the membership or 50 association members – has now been met and the meeting is planned for Saturday, June 1 at a hotel in Windsor.

At the time, a spokesperson for Leave.Eu said: “If he [Dr Lee] 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.”

And tonight the group were celebrating the news. They posted on Twitter:

“We’re hoping to claim yet another scalp on June 1 after our ground campaign secured the signatures required to force a deselection vote in pro-EU Phillip Lee!

“Conservative Remainers, this is the price you pay for ignoring demoracy [sic]”.

The news has been met with a stern response from Dr Lee, whose Bracknell constituency includes parts of Finchampstead and Wokingham Without.

He said that it was “an unpleasant sideshow with zero practical effect because nothing happens as a result. I’m the Conservative MP for Bracknell now and I’ll still be the Conservative MP for Bracknell afterwards”.

“It is part of a broader, coordinated campaign by wealthy individuals and organisations in this country and around the world to manipulate democracy for their own ends. For many months I have warned of this malign influence. Well-funded advertising campaigns have explicitly encouraged people to join the Conservative Party in order to get rid of elected Members of Parliament who do not share their narrow view on the type of Brexit this country should adopt.

“Such entryism has never been a feature of Conservative politics in this country.  I’m sad that it appears we are vulnerable to the sort of public manipulation that I believe also influenced the outcome of the EU referendum.”

And he wanted the country to take action against “this threat to our democracy”.

Dr Lee added: “I appeal to every Bracknell constituent who wants to promote decent, honourable politics to make your voice heard – join the Conservative Party locally, support me and help to secure a better future for us all.”

It is not the first time that a Bracknell MP has come under pressure to stand down. Dr Lee’s predecessor, Andrew MacKay, announced in 2009 that he would stand down at the 2010 General Election over the MP’s expenses scandal.

Dr Lee’s statement in full

“I regret that this vote has been called – in reality it’s an unpleasant sideshow with zero practical effect because nothing happens as a result. I’m the Conservative MP for Bracknell now and I’ll still be the Conservative MP for Bracknell afterwards.

“It is part of a broader, coordinated campaign by wealthy individuals and organisations in this country and around the world to manipulate democracy for their own ends. For many months I have warned of this malign influence. Well-funded advertising campaigns have explicitly encouraged people to join the Conservative Party in order to get rid of elected Members of Parliament who do not share their narrow view on the type of Brexit this country should adopt.

“Such entryism has never been a feature of Conservative politics in this country.  I’m sad that it appears we are vulnerable to the sort of public manipulation that I believe also influenced the outcome of the EU referendum.

“This entryism is helping to make sure that elements of the current membership are increasingly out of touch with the views of the electorate. And it is helping to create a climate of fear and intimidation. If these elements prevail, we can be sure that the public won’t choose a Conservative Government again.

“At its root, this meeting is an attempt to intimidate me and change my stance on the most important issue this country has faced for over 70 years. I will not attend a meeting that is only intended to damage me and the Party. Those who support me should not feel obliged to attend either. We should not play into the hands of a narrow group that seeks to destroy the Conservative Party from within. Intimidation will not work on me.

“Most people will look at this spectacle – members of an MP’s own Party playing political games – with confusion and dismay.  But I am not the first dedicated and loyal Conservative MP to be targeted in this way, and I am sure I will not be the last.

“The people and organisations behind these campaigns don’t have deliverable or desirable solutions to the complex challenges our country faces, such as climate change, the sustainability of our health and welfare systems and the threat of extremism. They do not offer a realistic, positive and meaningful future for our country in the 21st century.

“We need to act against this threat to our democracy. I appeal to every Bracknell constituent who wants to promote decent, honourable politics to make your voice heard – join the Conservative Party locally, support me and help to secure a better future for us all.”

 

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Sally Gurney

If the Conservatives deselect Dr Lee (a remain supporting MP in a leave voting constituency), then I trust they will do the same next door in Wokingham and deselect Mr Redwood (a leave supporting MP in a remain voting constituency).

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