Grantham MP Nick Boles tries to block association dumping threat
Rebel Grantham MP Nick Boles is reportedly trying to block a bid to start to process which could see local Conservative association bosses dump him as their general election candidate.
The MP does not have to be physically present before the executive of the Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association tomorrow but he is expected to have told them before their meeting whether he wants to stand again or not.
The attempts by the association to see where they stand with Mr Boles comes amid further talk of an early General Election, with June 6 named as a potential date.
It all comes as the MP has faced mounting anger from association members over his threats to resign the Conservative whip should the government allow a no deal brexit.
The MP's efforts, including working with Labour MPs to deliver a 'super-soft' Brexit known as Common Market 2.0 or Norway-plus has also fuelled opposition, along with his attacks on association members and saying it was he who first coned the phrase 'the nasty party' to describe the Tories.
At a meeting in Stamford on Friday, Mr Boles appeared the throw an olive branch at his party, by saying they were not 'extremists' but his critics were "loyal patriotic people."
Today, the Sunday Times reported on how the rebel MP is to refuse to tell constituency party bosses what his future intentions are.
He is quoted as saying: "I have no intention of telling them now my plans for an election which is not due to be run until 2022."
"I will make up my mind when I’m fit and ready and certainly well in advance of the 2022 election, but not before.”
The newspaper says the MP has no idea how that will go down with his local party and predicts it will be the Conservative Party centrally that will have to decide whether to support his timetable or that of his association.
He added: "It’s obviously an attempt to give the association an opportunity to vote against my reselection and I’m not intending to give them the pleasure,” the Tory MP added.
The newspaper also reported Mr Boles also faces threats of deselection along with other Remain-supporting MPs, including Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve.
The MP says he no longer support Remain but he has faced criticism for undermining Theresa May in her negotiations with Brussels by trying to rule out no deal, something which polls have shown to be the most popular option amongst Conservative Party members.
Newspapers this weekend have also reported the MP may also be involved in further parliamentary moves, including working with Labour's Yvette Cooper again, in their bids to prevent a no deal brexit, which may delay the UK's departure from the European Union.
Mr Boles also told the Sunday Times: "I was already lukewarm (about the EU) and if there were a second referendum, which I absolutely oppose and will never ever support, I wouldn’t vote to remain. I don’t think I’d vote at all. I think I’d just sit the whole thing out . . . I don’t think we can remain now. I think the decision has been made and we’ve got to move on and develop a new relationship.
"But what I’m passionate about is that we must have a deal, and ideally the deal should be one that preserves, as much as possible, our single market position, and that’s why I’ve obviously been promoting the common market.”
Today, Grantham & Stamford Conservative Association Chairman Philip Sagar told the Journal: "It's never been about his deselection it’s about knowing what his intentions are as our Conservative MP. He has been sending out very mixed messages of late. The Association has a duty to ensure we have a Conservative candidate in place before the next election whenever that might be. Our neighbouring associations have done this. Nick will remain our MP whatever happens until the next election and that was never in any doubt."
Mr Sagar was quoted in the Sunday Times last week, accusing the newspaper of misreported him in not wanting Mr Boles as candidate, when instead his support for him was really 'doubtful.'
He added: "I am still convinced that he is undecided about whether to stand again or not. All of his actions and statements since December have indicated this could be his last hoorah. If his comments in the Sunday Times are to be believed, he doesn’t want to tell us yet! But after my grossly misreported comments (in the Sunday Times) of last week who knows. The Association can under the rules ask him to confirm his intentions and that is what we will now be doing on Monday evening."