‘Betrayed’ Tories demand Nick Boles resigns as Grantham MP
‘Betrayed’ local Conservatives have demanded Stamford MP Nick Boles “takes the honourable course and resigns his seat.”
The call from Stamford and Grantham Association vice-president Coun Martin Hill follows Mr Boles quitting his membership of the local association this morning.
The MP said he would remain the local Conservative MP “if offered to me on acceptable terms.”
His decision to quit came as no surprise to local councillors and association officials, who speak of a Remain-supporting MP who has distanced himself from them and failed to represent his constituency who in 2016 voted more than 60 per cent to Leave.
Coun Hill, who is also leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “As you are all aware Nick has been at odds with the local party and the Prime Minister for some time, so this announcement does not come as a complete surprise but the timing does leave at lot to be desired.
“I understand that it is Mr Boles intention to carry on as the MP for Grantham and Stamford until the next General Election despite being elected to represent us in Parliament.
“Our Association AGM will be on March 28th where we can begin the process of selecting a new candidate to represent us at the next election or earlier if Mr Boles takes the honourable course and resigns his seat.
“This is very disappointing for us all as once again we have been betrayed by our parliamentary representative but I am confident that we will continue to work together to support the Conservative cause in this part of Lincolnshire.”
Association Chairman Philip Sagar is reportedly ‘livid’ over the MP’s decision.
He told ITV News there is no “plot” to deselect the MP and all the association wanted to do was “ask him to make his bloody mind” whether he wished to stand again.
“The idea there is a witch hunt is nonsense. I always believed he would not stand again. Now at last he has told us but only because we forced his hand.”
Association vice chairman, Adam Stokes told the Journal he was not surprised the MP quit the association, but said all the association was doing was asking him of his intentions.
The Grantham councillor said Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson was re-adopted on Friday.
Coun Stokes said he believed re-adoption "would have been a difficult time for Nick."
The association had members with a variety of views on Brexit, but "The Jeremy Corbyn meeting didn't go down too well with some members and with the voting constituency."
Now, with Mr Boles leaving the association, Coun Stokes believed this may benefit the Conservatives as councillors face local elections in May.
People "believe he was trying to stop brexit. The feeling from some of the members of the public he was trying to put blocks in the way of us leaving on March 29. His own common market 2.0 doesnt allow what the public wanted."
Either way, Coun Stokes added there remains a "sense of disappointment" at Mr Boles' departure from the association, but now it needed to plan for a successor.
Coun Ray Wootten, chairman of Grantham East Conservative Branch, said of the MP: "I think he should become an independent. He has voted against the government on measures and failed to represent the people of South Kesteven who voted to leave in a majority."
The Grantham councillor said he was not surprised at the MP's decision, noting it came a couple of week's before the association AGM.
Coun Wootten added: "Nothing against him personally. But he had his own agenda to remain in the EU at all costs. I have clashed with him on a number of occasions."
From his Westminster political colleagues, came warmer words,as they paid tribute to the MP.
Home secretary Sajid Javid said: “Very much hope @NickBoles continues to contribute fully to the parliamentary party. A huge talent and a man of integrity. It’s vital we stick together in these challenging times.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “So sad to see the consequences of the divisions over Brexit. My old friend @NickBoles is a v decent man & full of integrity. I desperately hope we can come back together as a party, heal the wounds and work to build a united future for our country
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd described Mr Boles as “ A man who influenced the shape of the modern Conservative party & will no doubt continue to do so.
Close colleague Nicky Morgan said: “I am sorry that @NickBoles has felt compelled to make this decision now. @Conservatives are at our best when we are broad in our appeal - MPs are representatives for all of our constituents and owe them our judgment & hard work - something Nick has ably done from 2010.”
The anti-Brexit Anna Soubry, who recently quit the Conservatives to join the Independent Group, also tweeted: “How on earth did it come to this? Yet again there are serious questions to be asked about the leadership of @Conservatives notably of @BrandonLewis who is failing to stand up for first class moderate One Nation Tory MPs like @NickBoles The party is becoming a right wing rump.”
Mr Boles tweeted in response: “Thanks to all those who have sent nice messages about my decision. I hadn’t intended to announce it until tomorrow but ‘better out than in’ as my stepmother says.”
The MP is due to appear on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday at 10am.