AMBER Rudd has warned that Boris Johnson’s “purge” of “good Conservative moderates” will cost the party the next election.
She also warned of “dangerous outcomes” if the “combat” between “Parliament and the people” escalates still further.
Ms Rudd was speaking after quitting as Work and Pensions Secretary, and resigning the Tory whip, in another blow to the premier’s authority.
She will not fight her marginal Hastings seat in Sussex at the next election, which she held in 2017 by just 346 votes, but intends to contest another constituency.
Ms Rudd acted after being appalled by the Government’s decision to sack 21 Tory rebels, including former ministers and party grandees, for voting against a no-deal Brexit.
She says she had to seek lengthy assurances about the legality of proroguing Parliament at such a crucial time in Brexit negotiations before confronting Mr Johnson “several times” last week about his willingness to negotiate a deal with the EU by October 31.
“It’s not just 21 individuals, it’s a big symbol that the Conservative Party doesn’t embrace moderate people,” said Ms Rudd who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum. “Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond, these great Conservatives. I kept on arguing against it, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.”
She warned the PM that any lurch to the right would damage his chances of securing a majority at the next election, despite a YouGov poll suggesting the Tories hold a 14-point lead over Labour.
“I’m actually not leaving the Conservative Party. What I am doing is surrendering the whip alongside my colleagues, the 21 others, in order to stand with them,” added the former Home Secretary. “If we become a party which has no place for the type of moderate that I am, then we will not win.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stood by the move to oust the rebels. “I think the Prime Minister was right to restore some discipline and I think he’s right to expect it from his top team,” he said.
But Labour MP Caroline Flint – who is supportive of a Brexit deal – says the issue is one of “trust”. The Don Valley MP added: “Can we trust the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do what he said he would do, which is work to achieve a deal?”
Sajid Javid refuses to rule out Brexit Party pact
SAJID Javid has refused to rule out a pact with the Brexit Party in a general election.
The Chancellor claims that the embattled Tories “don’t need an electoral alliance with anyone” in the wake of Amber Rudd’s resignation from the Cabinet.
He was then asked on The Andrew Marr Show five times to publicly rule out a pact with the Nigel Farage-led Brexit Party.
“The picture our opponents are painting of us, of course they would paint a false picture. We are a proud centre-right, moderate, one-nation party,” he said.
“There is nothing extremist about wanting to meet the will of the British people on a simple question which was ‘Do you want to leave the EU or not?’ We are not in an election yet.”
Mr Javid said he supported holding a general election.