London:More than a month after Boris Johnson took over as the UK’s new prime minister, he lost working parliamentary majority ahead of a crucial Brexit vote Tuesday after Conservative MP Phillip Lee defected to the pro-EU Liberal Democrats. With his departure, the Tories are now a minority government.Johnson condemned a plan by lawmakers to block his Brexit strategy as “surrender” and said it would undermine his intention to negotiate a new divorce deal with the EU.
He said the move by opposition MPs and members of his Conservative party to try to delay Brexit beyond October 31 if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels was like “running up the white flag”. Ahead of a first vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening, Johnson said:There are no circumstances in which I will ever accept anything like it”.Members of Johnson’s own Tory party, including Lee, have worked with opposition lawmakers to draft a bill to force him to delay Brexit if he cannot agree divorce terms with the EU in time.Johnson has warned he will prevent any Tory MPs who support the bill from standing for the party in any upcoming election, which is looking increasingly likely.
“This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,” said Lee.”It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way,” he added.Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said she was “delighted” by the defection.”He shares our commitment to prevent a disastrous No Deal Brexit, and to stop Brexit altogether,” she said.
After a great deal of thought, I have reached the conclusion that it is no longer possible to serve my constituents’ and country’s best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament. My letter to the Prime Minister: pic.twitter.com/0QreSbSdwR
— Dr Phillip Lee MP (@DrPhillipLeeMP) September 3, 2019