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MP quits Tories in House of Commons following Brexit plan defeat

Nick Boles shocked the chamber with his announcement.

Nick Boles speaking during the indicative votes debate in the House of Commons (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)
Nick Boles speaking during the indicative votes debate in the House of Commons (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

An MP quit the Conservative Party in the House of Commons chamber after his Brexit alternative was defeated for a second time.

Former minister Nick Boles said he “could no longer sit for this party”, prompting one colleague to say: “Oh Nick, don’t go, come on.”

He was applauded by other MPs for his announcement, which came moments after his Common Market 2.0 proposal was among four Brexit alternatives to Theresa May’s deal rejected again by MPs.

Mr Boles acknowledged he had “failed” but blamed this “chiefly because my party refuses to compromise”.

His plan sought UK membership of the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area and received cross party support, but lost by 282 votes to 261 – majority 21.

Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke’s proposal for any Brexit deal to include a commitment to negotiate a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU” was defeated by 276 votes to 273, majority three – the smallest margin.

Labour MP Peter Kyle’s call for a second referendum to confirm any Brexit deal received the most votes but was defeated by 292 votes to 280, majority 12.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s motion calling for an extension to the Brexit process, and if this is not possible then Parliament will choose between either no-deal or revoking Article 50, was defeated by 292 votes to 191, majority 101.

Mr Boles rose to his feet to raise a point of order in the Commons after Speaker John Bercow had read out the results.

He said: “I have given everything to an attempt to find a compromise that can take this country out of the European Union while maintaining our economic strength and our political cohesion.

“I accept I have failed. I have failed chiefly because my party refuses to compromise.

“I regret therefore to announce I can no longer sit for this party.”

He later wrote on Twitter: “I am resigning the Conservative whip with immediate effect. The Conservative Party has shown itself to be incapable of compromise so I will sit as an Independent Progressive Conservative.”

PA

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