Dominic Grieve has blamed an ‘orchestrated’ campaign to oust him masterminded by a former UKIP candidate after he lost vote of no confidence from his local Conservative association.
The rebel MP who has masterminded a campaign to seize control of Brexit next week faces the prospect of deselection – and there are fears among Tories who have Remain sympathies that more of them could be targeted.
A Ukip-supporting donor for Leave.eu, Arron Banks, has funded a campaign against former Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston who defected to The Independent Group in February this year.
Senior Eurosceptics predict prominent Remainers like Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen (former Conservative now Independent Group), Antoinette Sandbach, Sam Gymiah, Guto Bebb and Philip Lee will be next to come under fire.
A change.org campaign called ‘Deselect Sarah Wollaston’ has garnered 11,327 signatures in just nine months.
Conservative MP Dominic Grieve was deselected last night after he lost a vote of no confidence by 182 votes to 131. His ousting has sparked fears among other Conservative Remainers that they could be next to face the axe
The campaign against the Totnes & South Devon MP states: ‘In the recent EU (Withdrawal) Bill Commons votes, Sarah Wollaston MP has tried to tie the Prime Minister’s hands with a “meaningful vote” amendment, which is nothing more than an attempt to stop Brexit.
‘Sarah Wollaston MP does not represent her constituents and does not adhere to the manifesto on which she stood.
‘In signing this petition, we urge the local conservative association to deselect Sarah Wollaston MP.’
The move follows a similar push against former Conservative MP Nick Boles, who quit the party amid bids for his deselection in February.
In an interview on Sky News today Dominic Grieve discussed his recent deselection and revealed he believed the ousting came as part of an ‘orchestrated campaign’ by his former opponent in 2017, former Ukip member Jon Conway.
Mr Grieve said he believed Mr Conway had ‘the express intention’ of defeating the motion of confidence which had been tabled by Mr Grieve’s officers.
He said: ‘The evidence is pretty plain that he organised members in the organisation for the single purpose of coming to defeat me’.
Mr Grieve noted that it wasn’t a common occurrence for a Conservative MP to be ousted and said: ‘The Conservative Party doesn’t seek to expel members of parliament.
‘Otherwise many of my colleagues who have good careers in parliament would never have been able to remain there.
Pro-Brexit organisation, Leave.eu, encourages its supporters to vote to deselect prominent Conservative Remainers. It’s founder, Arron Banks,
Although 350 turned up to the vote last night, Mr Grieve made it clear he didn’t believe the vote represented the views of all conservative voters in Beaconsfield.
He said: ‘There are 36,000 people in Beaconsfield who vote Conservative’.
‘I get complaints from people who vote Conservative who are appalled at the way Brexit is unfolding.’
In defence of Theresa May and her deal he said: ‘The reason why the Prime Minister has not been able to get her deal through parliament is not through bad faith’.
He said it is because the deal when it is examined ‘whether by Leavers or Remainers’ is lacking.
When asked what he would be doing following his deselection he said he was ‘grateful’ for the concerns shown by others regarding their confidence in him but said he will ‘continue to keep that in mind as we try to find a way out’.
Conservative MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, weighed in on the discussion following Mr Grieve’s deselection.
He said: ‘Dominic Grieve is deselected because of his beliefs in campaign led by his ex-UKIP opponent.
‘The Tory leadership can stop any deselection if it wants – we frequently did.
‘CCHQ should suspend the local party. Otherwise we are heading for a huge, historic split in the Tory Party.’
Heidi Allen (left) and Sarah Wollaston (right) both face coming under fire as prominent Remainers. A campaign to oust Dr Wollaston has already gained 11,327 signatures
He added: ‘Grieve’s deselection is also a test for the contenders for the Tory leadership.
‘Let’s hear them not just condemn what has happened but use their leverage over No. 10 to demand it is overturned.
‘We’ll see who’s a leader – and we’ll discover whether they’ll be a party left to lead.’
Arron Banks, founder of Leave.eu, was recently found to have broken a ban on campaigning for Brexit following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
Mr Banks’s website brandishes a picture of Conservative MPs with the caption ‘Deselect the Tory traitors. The time is now’.
The new fears of more MP ousting come after Dominic Grieve’s deselection last night, which saw him lose a vote of no confidence by 182 votes to 131 from his local Conservative Party.
The chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association Jackson Ng said the no confidence vote motion was passed at the association’s annual general meeting.
‘Our members had a robust discussion with our MP, Dominic Grieve QC on Brexit before voting on a motion of confidence in him as our MP, which, I can confirm with a heavy heart that he failed to retain,’ he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The prominent pro-Remain Tory MP Dominic Grieve has suffered a vote of no confidence by his local Conservative Party
Anna Soubry, who left the Tory party to join The Independent Group last month, weighed in on the decision on Twitter
Leave.EU’s official account praised the decision of local party members in Beaconsfield tonight
‘He remains our Conservative MP but I will be speaking as soon as possible to my fellow officers and the executive council.’
Mr Grieve, a former attorney general, lost by 182 votes to 131. as a result, the association can try to deselect him as a Tory candidate at the next General Election.
He was one of the MPs behind the cross-party move to seize control of Commons business to stage a series of indicative votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s deal.
The opposition in the constituency to Mr Grieve is reported to have been organised by the former Ukip candidate who stood against him in the 2017 general election, Jon Conway.
In June last year arch-remainer Mr Grieve put forward an amendment to Parliament the power to direct Mrs May if she could not get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons.
This attempt to secure a ‘meaningful vote’ was defeated by 319 votes to 303, with even Mr Grieve voting against his own amendment.
But the plan was revived a week later after a spectacular intervention by the House of Lords.
Mr Grieve, left, is pictured with Beaconsfield Conservative Constituency Chairman Jackson Ng, right, after the vote
Last June a senior party member in Mr Grieve’s constituency told the Daily Mail: ‘Grieve has even upset Remainers in the association who think he’s gone too far. If he doesn’t go, I suspect we will tell him to.’
Colleagues of Mr Grieve were quick to offer their support.
Fellow remainer Anna Soubry, of the newly-formed party Change UK, weighed in on the decision on Twitter, saying: ‘This is disgraceful. More evidence that the uncompromising dogmatic right is running the @Conservatives
‘#DominicGrieve is one of the finest, most courageous Parliamentarians ever – who has always put his country first & championed all his constituents.’
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called Mr Grieve a ‘national hero’.
He wrote: ‘Full takeover of the Tory Party by the hard right ERG sect underway tonight. Dominic Grieve is a national hero, who has done more than anyone to try to save Britain from this #BrexitShambles disaster. #FinalSay #PeoplesVote.’
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw claimed the vote of no confidence showed that the hard right ERG sect was taking over the Tory party