Tuesday 24 September 2019

'I was sacked by text message' - rebel Tory MP Rory Stewart calls decision to throw him out of the party 'astonishing'

Rory Stewart. Picture: PA
Rory Stewart. Picture: PA
Vote: Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to hold an election. Photo: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Joe Giddens/PA)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former international development secretary Rory Stewart has told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he was sacked from the Conservative Party by text message.

The one-time Cabinet minister had the whip withdrawn after voting against the Government on Tuesday evening.

Mr Stewart said the decision on who should be a Tory candidate should rest with local associations.

"This really should be a choice for local Conservative associations and not a central decision," said the former leadership hopeful.

"This is not a Conservative way of behaving."

Vote: Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to hold an election. Photo: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

Mr Stewart called the decision to throw him out of the party "astonishing" and said it was something "you associate with other countries" rather than Britain.

He received the news of his sacking as he was being given the GQ award for politician of the year.

Asked how he received the news, the Penrith and the Border MP said: "It came by text."

He added: "It was a pretty astonishing moment. Remember, only a few weeks ago I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Boris Johnson and I was in the Cabinet. And it has all gone very quickly in six weeks.

READ MORE: Brexit A to Z - Key terms related to Britain's exit from the EU explained

"It feels a little bit like something you associate with other countries - one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and one's seat too."

Mr Stewart said there were other Tories who had been wanting to block no-deal but were convinced to back the PM.

"There are 30 or 40 MPs who agree with us entirely but didn't vote with us partly because the threat being made here is terrible for people," he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Joe Giddens/PA)

"It is not just that they were threatened with losing their incomes and jobs, but people feel deeply loyal to the Conservative Party, they want to give the Prime Minister a chance, they don't want to bring in a Jeremy Corbyn government.

"He has been able to use all of that and he's been promising people he can get a deal out of Brussels, but the truth is there is absolutely and never has been any majority either in the country or in Parliament for no-deal. That has been true all the way through - I said it in the leadership race."

Ministers have begun arriving for a Cabinet meeting hours after the Prime Minister's defeat in Parliament on Tuesday night.

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps declined to answer questions as they arrived at Number 10.

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