Remain MP Dominic Grieve: Bid to oust me is orchestrated campaign

The former attorney general was speaking after suffering a vote of no confidence by his local party, opening the way for his deselection as the Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Beaconsfield, which he has held for more than two decades.

He has accused Tory member Jon Conway, the former UKIP candidate who stood against him in the 2017 general election, of being behind the move.

But Mr Conway denied this and hit back telling Sky News the MP “is the rebel, not us”.

Mr Grieve was one of the MPs behind the cross-party move to seize control of House of Commons business to stage a series of indicative votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s deal.

He backs a second referendum and last week said Mrs May’s attack on parliament for blocking her Brexit deal left him “never more ashamed to be Conservative”, adding: “I could have wept.”

The chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association, Jackson Ng, announced “with a heavy heart” Mr Grieve had lost a confidence vote at the association’s annual general meeting on Friday evening.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Grieve said: “At the meeting, there was a very large number of people who turned up, about 100 of whom I had certainly never seen or met before in my years as a member of parliament.

“There is clear evidence there was an orchestrated campaign by my UKIP opponent in 2017, who’s since joined the association with the express intention of trying to come along and defeating the motion.

“And they were successful in doing that.

“It was a slightly rowdy meeting, although the chair was able to keep it under control. But certainly, it wasn’t the sort of Conservative Party meeting that I’m used to attending.”

The MP claimed Mr Conway had said he did not wish to cause trouble when he joined the party.

But Mr Grieve added: “The evidence I think is pretty plain that he organised both bringing members into the association and also organised preliminary meetings prior to this AGM taking place for the express single purpose of coming to defeat the motion of confidence in me.

“I should emphasise that the local association is fully entitled to express its views, but I’ve always known that Brexit is very divisive and I’m totally respectful of the views of people who disagree with me as to the way I’ve approached this particular crisis.”

He said he had received a stream of emails from Conservative voters “appalled at the way Brexit is unfolding and very troubled about what they are hearing”.

Mr Grieve went on: “I fear very much that if the party isn’t able to get to grips with this problem and simply becomes a single issue group then our ability to win elections in future is going to be very limited.”

But rejecting accusations of a so-called “Blukip” infiltration, Mr Conway said: “I am the one and only single activist from UKIP to have joined the Conservative Party in Beaconsfield. That is the fact.”

He argued Mr Grieve and the party leadership had promised to respect the referendum result.

Mr Conway added: “He’s never really believed in the idea of it (Brexit) and he’s become very outspoken. He’s the rebel, not us.”

The no confidence vote paves the way for the association’s executive council to decide if Mr Grieve will have to take part in a new candidate selection.

However, regardless of the outcome he will remain an MP until the next election unless he decided to quit first.

But Mr Grieve said: “My intention is to carry on as before.”

Colleagues from across the political divide have rallied to his support.

His pro-Brexit constituency neighbour Boris Johnson tweeted: “Sad to hear about Dominic Grieve. We disagree about EU but he is a good man and a true Conservative #grieveforbeaconsfield.”

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I don’t always agree with him but a Conservative Party that doesn’t have room for Dominic Grieve doesn’t have a happy future.”

Former chancellor George Osborne has called on Conservative head office to intervene and suspend the local party.

“Otherwise we are heading for a huge, historic split in the Tory Party,” he warned in a tweet.

Former Tory MP Anna Soubry, who was also at the forefront of the Remain wing of the Conservative Party until she defected to join The Independent Group, branded the vote “disgraceful” and hailed Mr Grieve as “one of the finest, most courageous parliamentarians ever”.

Several Labour MPs also voiced support for Mr Grieve.

Stella Creasy said the country’s politics “would be poorer without his input”, while Phil Wilson said the vote was “ridiculous”.

However, Brexiteer businessman Arron Banks, who founded the Leave.EU campaign group, welcomed the vote against Mr Grieve.

Mr Banks tweeted: “He’s done everything he could to undermine and defeat Brexit. Good.”

2019-03-31T16:58:05+00:00By |

About the Author: