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Tobias Ellwood axed from Government

He lost his job as a defence minister as Boris Johnson continued to appoint ministers.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans at the Defence Medical Rehab Centre (DMRC) as it opens its doors to the media for the first time since relocating to the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough.
Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans at the Defence Medical Rehab Centre (DMRC) as it opens its doors to the media for the first time since relocating to the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough.

Tobias Ellwood warned that a no-deal Brexit would leave the Tory party in the “abyss” of opposition for a decade as he was axed from the Government.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to leave the European Union on October 31, with or without a deal, and has demanded that all his ministers back that plan.

Mr Ellwood, who has repeatedly warned about  the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, said that “like many, I was invited back to the backbenches” as Mr Johnson carried out a cull of Theresa May’s ministers.

The former army officer, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack, had been a popular defence minister and vowed to continue speaking out in favour of increased spending on the armed forces.

He told PA he had “bothered to learn about the consequences” of a no-deal Brexit, in an apparent sideswipe at some of his colleagues.

The Bournemouth East MP, who had previously served in the Foreign Office, said: “I have been very much of a view and have been vocal to say I think a deal is possible given the numbers and where we go. We would be in the abyss for a decade.

“But ultimately you can see the make-up of this Government, it’s for a particular challenge and I think – it’s the Prime Minister’s decision, the make-up of the team, to meet the particular challenge of the day.

“It’s been a privilege to serve, it’s been an amazing journey in two amazing departments and I’ve been very fortunate.”

He warned that Brexit “purists” on the Tory benches were seizing on the possibility of a no-deal outcome as their preferred option.

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Tobias Ellwood tried to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked if he would use his freedom on the backbenches to join other former ministers in voting against  a no-deal Brexit, he said: “I’m not going down that route at all. At the moment I’m 100% behind the Prime Minister and I actually think it’s the duty of every single Member of Parliament to support the Prime Minister.

“His objective, his main effort – to use a military term – is to get a deal. The more you big up no deal, which actually isn’t a destination, the more you give some of our pure Brexiteers fuel to say that’s where we should want to go.

“It’s been a very unhelpful debate in playing up no deal.

“It’s not in our manifesto, it wasn’t on the books when Vote Leave was created and it should be avoided at absolutely all costs.”

He said every effort should be directed at getting a deal “otherwise the damage to our economy will send our party into opposition for a decade”.

Mr Ellwood said the Government had to increase defence spending to deal with the threats now facing the country.

He said the seizure of a British flagged tanker by Iran was an example “of us being caught short”.

A number of Royal Navy ships were “stuck in refit” and “you can’t operate in and meet the new threats coming over the horizon with such a limited surface fleet”.

Investment was needed in increasing the number of RAF jets and replacing tanks which are 20 years old, he added.

“We enter a new era of instability facing ever more complex and diverse threats,” he said.

“Britain must develop our hard power if we are to retain our influence on the international stage.”

PA

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