Former chancellor Philip Hammond has announced he will stand down at the general election. In a letter to his constituents, the ex-cabinet minister announced “with great sadness” that he would not seek re-election in Runnymede and Weybridge, in Surrey, in next month’s poll.
Mr Hammond, who was sacked from the Tory party by Boris Johnson for rebelling against a no-deal Brexit, said standing down after 22 years was “not a decision I have taken lightly”.
But he said the withdrawal of the whip from himself and 20 other colleagues meant he would be forced to stand as an independent in the upcoming poll — and surrender his party membership.
“If I fight the general election as an independent conservative candidate against an official Conservative party candidate, I would cease to be a member of the party,” he said.
Hammond’s resignation is inevitable given Boris’s no-deal delusions
“I am saddened to find myself in this position after 45 years of Conservative party membership, 22 years’’ service as a Conservative MP, 12 years as an opposition front-bench spokesman and over 9 years as a cabinet minister, including service as defence secretary, foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer.”
In a veiled dig at the prime minister, Mr Hammond said the Tory party had “always had room for a wide range of opinions and has been tolerant of measured dissent”.
“Many parliamentary colleagues have defied the party whip on occasion without any action being taken against them,” he said.
“But however aggrieved I feel at the loss of the whip, and however strongly I believe that we must deliver Brexit through a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU to protect British jobs and prosperity.
“I remain a Conservative and I cannot, therefore, embark upon a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in a general election to the party I have supported all my adult life.”
Mr Hammond is the latest in a string of high-profile current or former Tories to stand down ahead of the Christmas election.
Culture secretary Nicky Morgan surprised many colleagues when she announced she would not stand again, while Amber Rudd, Ken Clarke, Sir Alan Duncan and Sir Michael Fallon have all decided against fighting this election. — independent.co.uk