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Former chancellor Philip Hammond quits Parliament

The Independent MP said it was with ‘great sadness’ that he had decided to stand down.

Philip Hammond has resigned as an MP (Jeff Overs/BBC)
Philip Hammond has resigned as an MP (Jeff Overs/BBC)

By Patrick Daly and Catherine Wylie, PA Political Correspondents

Former chancellor Philip Hammond has announced he will be standing down as an MP.

Mr Hammond had the whip removed by Boris Johnson after voting to block a no-deal Brexit and he was not one of the 10 Tories to be reinstated before last week’s General Election announcement.

It means he would not have been able to have stand as a Conservative candidate at the upcoming December 12 election or else face total expulsion from the party he has “supported all my adult life”.

With Parliament being dissolved for the election campaign just after midnight, Mr Hammond has called time on his two decades in the House of Commons.

He is one of 64 MPs to announce they will be quitting Westminster, with a host of senior former Tory figures, such as ex-chancellor Ken Clarke and former home secretary Amber Rudd, choosing to call it a day.

The Oxford graduate previously served as foreign, defence and transport secretary under David Cameron before being given the keys to Number 11 Downing Street by Theresa May.

He resigned the role after Conservative MPs chose Mr Johnson to replace Mrs May as Prime Minister and has been a critic of the new administration’s tactics since becoming an Independent.

Mr Hammond, who has been MP for Runnymede and Weybridge in Surrey since 1997, said he felt “aggrieved” at the loss of the whip.

“The Conservative Party that I have served has always had room for a wide range of opinions and has been tolerant of measured dissent,” the Remain campaigner said in his resignation letter to constituents.

“Many parliamentary colleagues have defied the party whip on occasions without any action being taken against them.

“But however aggrieved I feel at the loss of the whip, and however strongly I believe that we must deliver Brexit through a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU to protect British jobs and prosperity, I remain a Conservative and I cannot, therefore, embark upon a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in a General Election to the party I have supported all my adult life.”

The 63-year-old said he would remain an “active party member” and thanked his constituents for allowing him 22 years of service.

“It has been a pleasure to serve you and I wish you all every good fortunes for the future. I shall miss you greatly,” he said.

The Essex-born politician said he would work to “promote a widening of Conservative Party membership” to ensure its “future is a broad-based, forward-looking pro-business and pro-markets centre-right party”.

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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (Jacob King/PA)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage was less than complimentary about the outgoing MP, accusing Mr Hammond of being “dishonest” since the referendum result.

Asked if he wanted to pay tribute to the former cabinet minister, Mr Farage said: “Not really. He’s a fraud.

“He was elected in 2017 on a manifesto to respect the result of the referendum and over the past few years he has undermined it in every single way he could.

“It’s that kind of dishonest politics that we want to see the back of.”

Meanwhile, Anne Milton, another one of the 21 Tory MPs who had the whip withdrawn, will stand as an independent in the General Election.

She posted on Twitter: “I wrote to the PM yesterday to tell him I felt unable to be a Conservative Candidate.

“I have considered very carefully what is best to do and will stand as an Independent Candidate at the next General Election.”

Commenting on her decision, she said: “I want people in Guildford to have a choice at the General Election.

“I have a background outside politics, a wealth of experience and a strong track record of achievement.”

She said she wants to represent her constituency without “being bound by party politics”, adding: “People have become increasingly frustrated by political parties and their inability to work together for the common good and I believe Guildford needs a credible alternative.”

PA

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