Tory ex-minister Nick Boles faces deselection over Brexit stance | Politics News

A former minister is facing a battle to keep his own parliamentary seat after members of his constituency voted unanimously to start selecting a candidate for the next election.

Nick Boles is facing deselection after his local party members voted to start the process of looking for a candidate to represent Grantham and Stamford in the next general election.

It means he will have to convince his constituency party members to vote for him again, or he could be replaced with a new prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC).

According to the Financial Times, his local members are unhappy with his stance on Brexit.

The MP, who served as a minister for skills in David Cameron’s government, is a former Remainer but is now backing Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and seeking a softer “Norway-style” exit from the European Union.

The decision is understood to have been made by the local party on Monday evening, with an email sent to members on Tuesday.

Mr Boles addressed speculation he was “no longer a Conservative” in a post on his website last Thursday.

Nick Boles is part of a group seeking to prevent an accidental no-deal Brexit
Image:
Nick Boles is part of a group seeking to prevent an accidental no-deal Brexit

In the statement, he claims many of the constituency members were “members of UKIP until very recently” before asserting his Tory credentials, with three decades of campaigning under his belt and stints in Mr Cameron’s government in which he backed the introduction of gay marriage, “took on the Nimbys” to increase housebuilding and “pioneered the introduction of the apprenticeship levy”.

He closed with: “I am still the same person as I was when I was first selected as the Conservative candidate for Grantham and Stamford back in 2007. The same blend of egghead and hedonist, of country boy and metrosexual. Just with less hair.

“So I have a question for the members of my local Conservative association. Twelve years ago you selected me to be your parliamentary candidate. You thought I was a Conservative then.

“Am I Conservative enough for you now?”

Mr Boles has tweeted to thank supporters since the news emerged, and wrote: “Very grateful to @WilliamJHague for his generous comments. But the broader point is what matters: is the Conservative Party a broad-based coalition or a narrow ideological sect?”

The constituency chairman, Philip Sagar, told the FT it was not necessarily a move to remove a sitting MP, but a matter of good housekeeping.

Mr Sagar said it would be “unwise to pre-judge the outcome”.

Mr Boles is currently part of a cross-party group of MPs who have set out plans to try to ensure there is no “accidental” no-deal Brexit.

It includes Yvette Cooper and Sir Oliver Letwin. The group say they will put down an amendment to create parliamentary time for a bill requiring the prime minister and parliament to decide by mid-March if Britain will leave with a deal, no deal or ask to extend the Article 50 process.

Article 50 is the section of the Lisbon Treaty which allows member states to leave the EU and triggering it leads to two years in which to negotiate exit terms. Britain’s two years is up on 29 March.

Mr Boles has won support from fellow Conservatives, including Robert Halfon, who tweeted: “@NickBoles is a decent and good MP and has given non stop service to @Conservatives both as Minister and backbencher.

“His views re Brexit should be respected whether people agree or disagree – not used as a means for de-selection.”

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