Hastings MP Amber Rudd will not have Conservative party whip returned

Amber Rudd MP for Hastings & Rye
Amber Rudd MP for Hastings & Rye

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd will leave Parliament as an Independent MP after being told she will not have her Conservative party whip returned to her.

Ms Rudd announced on Wednesday morning (October 30) that she would not be standing in December’s General Election as she could not stand against her party.

Ms Rudd resigned from her Cabinet role as Work and Pensions Secretary after 21 MPs were expelled for voting to prevent a no-deal Brexit in September.

She also resigned her Tory whip and had intended to stand as an independent in a London constituency.

The Hastings and Rye MP said she hoped to have her Tory whip restored by Chief Whip Mark Spencer so she could leave the House of Commons as a Conservative MP.

However, Mr Spencer wrote to Ms Rudd telling her she could not be trusted to change her opinion on Boris Johnson again.

He wrote: “I am writing to you to confirm that I am not in a position to return the Conservative Party Whip to you.

“As I hope you know, I have the utmost respect for you as a colleague and believe that you have served with distinction in the variety of ministerial posts you have held since you were first elected to the House of Commons in 2010. You can rightly be proud of the contributions you have made.

“Since taking office in July, the Prime Minister has been clear in his determination to negotiate a Brexit deal with the European Union and he has delivered in that pledge, against the predictions of many. The Prime Minister was only stopped from getting Brexit done on 31 October because a number of colleagues worked with Jeremy Corbyn to make this legally impossible.

“As we enter a General Election campaign it is vital that he has a team alongside him who believe in him and feel able to support the policy aims of the Government. When you surrendered the Conservative Party whip and resigned from the Cabinet just 8 weeks ago, you were clear that you did not support the approach of the Prime Minister and did not have confidence in him. You have failed to provide me with assurances that you will not change your mind once more.

“Having been a member of the Whips’ Office since 2016 I have witnessed the debilitating effect of ill-discipline on the parliamentary party and the damage that has done to our wider politics. I appreciate that you surrendered the whip in an act of solidarity but I am of the view that the receipt of the whip is an honour, not a right, and as such it cannot be discarded or returned at will if it is to have any meaning.

“I understand that you plan to stand down from Parliament at the election, and while I know you will find this letter disappointing, I wanted to wish you well in future outside of the House. I am sure you will have huge success in whatever you plan to do.”

Responding to Mr Spencer’s letter, Ms Rudd said, last week, the Prime Minister had asked her to stand in the General Election.

She said the Chief Whip had been briefed by the wrong Number 10 sources, adding: “I respect the decision he had been asked to make.”