Grantham MP Nick Boles faces showdown this week
Grantham MP Nick Boles faces a showdown with local party officials within the week.
It comes after the rebel MP told the Sunday Times newspaper: “If they kick me out of the Conservative Party, so be it.”
The constituency association executive will ask Mr Boles next Monday whether or not he intends standing again as MP.
Despite the pair clashing regularly in both local and national press, association chairman Philip Sagar insists local Tories are not demanding the MP’s deselection.
Instead, in a letter to party members this week, Mr Sagar says Mr Boles will be asked if he intends standing again in readiness for a general election, which some commentators say may not be too far away.
If, the MP says yes, this will go to the following executive meeting several weeks later for approval.
If Mr Boles fails to win approval, the matter can then be decided by a postal ballot of party members or he joins a shortlist of potential candidates, whichever the MP chooses.
Mr Sagar told party members: “Clearly he still has supporters but with his continuing statements he is losing that support daily if your emails to me are a measure. It is a difficult choice but returning a Conservative MP at the next election has to be the priority. I am trying very hard to reflect the members' view as clearly expressed by so many of you.”
The Sunday Times also reported that Mr Sagar would no longer back the MP, adding he would cost the party the ‘safe’ seat.
However, Mr Sagar told the Journal he had been misquoted in the article, leading him to issue a statement to party members yesterday.
Instead, his support for the MP was now ‘doubtful.’
He told the Journal: “Too much has been said. I want people to vote for a Conservative candidate. I’m not sure in my heart Nick is a Conservative anymore. We are not extreme right-wingers.
“Much as the heart would like to vote for Nick, I can’t agree with him on his current way of undermining the government.”
In the Sunday Times article, Mr Boles commented: “My association chairman wants me to bend to the will of a small number of people with hardline views rather than stand up for what I believe is in the national interest. This I will not do.”
The MP then made a potentially libelous comment concerning the article on twitter, though who his comment was directed at remains unclear.
The controversy follows Mr Boles being interviewed in the Evening Standard on Friday, where the MP spoke of having new friends in other parties, working together to prevent a no deal Brexit.
Mr Boles also told the paper he was a moderniser, a progressive and a disruptor.
The MP also claimed under Theresa May, the Tories have lurched to the Right, and in doing so is “returning to deeply Conservative, shading into reactionary instincts.”
He also said: “The first person who called us (the Conservative Party) as the nasty party was me.”
The article also quoted him as saying: “I’ve imagined leaving [the Tories] a number of times” but he’s “never looked at Labour, the Lib-Dems or SNP and been even tempted to join.”
The Journal approached Mr Boles for comment.
*An open meeting with Mr Boles takes place at St Mary’s Church, 18 High Street, Stamford, this Friday from 7.15pm to 9pm. Entry is by tickets registered in advance via the Eventbrite website (see below).
Organiser Richard Cleaver said: “This is an open, non-partisan public meeting. It is not being organised under the auspices of any particular interest group. It is taking place in reaction to a complaint on Twitter that Nick only ever meets with his own party when he comes to Stamford, and should also meet the public.”
Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-meeting-with-nick-boles-mp-tickets-55649566351