Sam Gyimah says Tories no longer represent 'liberal values' after defecting to Lib Dems

15 September 2019, 11:07

Sam Gyimah said he defected because the Tories no longer have 'liberal values'
Sam Gyimah said he defected because the Tories no longer have 'liberal values'. Picture: pa

By Asher McShane

Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, who defected to the Liberal Democrats yesterday, has said the Conservative Party no longer stands for "liberal values".

Speaking to Sky News, he said it "became very clear" during the Tory leadership contest which he stood in that there were not enough moderate MPs left in the party.

He was later sacked for rebelling to vote take a no-deal Brexit off the table.

"It has done something unprecedented - it has withdrawn the whip from moderate MPs," the East Surrey MP said.

"The stark reality is that I had to face up to the fact that the Tory Party is in a different place.

"If I want to stand up for liberal values, then the Conservative Party is no longer the place to do that."

Mr Gyimah said the Lib Dems would only revoke Article 50 if the party "overwhelmingly" won the next general election and were to lead the next government.

The party is expected to adopt the revoke position at its party conference in Bournemouth on Sunday.

"The party is still supporting a People's Vote as a way to break the deadlock," he said.

He added: "With Brexit, we have to go back to the people now that we have seen what is negotiable."

Chuka Umunna welcomed new Lib Dem MP Sam Gyimah to the party, and denied all they have in common is their stance on Brexit.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge On Sky, Lib Dem MP Mr Umunna said the Tories have become a "right-wing, populist, nationalist party".

He said: "The ejection of 21 Conservative MPs including Sam Gyimah, who we are incredibly happy to now have in the Liberal Democrats, wasn't just an ejection of heavyweights, substantial individuals who command respect across the House of Commons, you actually saw the ejection of an entire tradition, the one nation Disraeli tradition, from the Conservative Party."

Mr Umunna said another Tory defector Dr Phillip Lee, who has been criticised for failing to vote in support equal marriage, has liberal values and is an important part of the party.

He said both Labour and the Tories "as they are currently configured" are not parties the Lib Dems could currently work with.