Brexit

Tories lose Commons majority as MP joins Liberal Democrats

Phillip Lee sitting next to Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson as she responds after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London, on the G7 Summit in Biarritz. Picture by PA Wire 
George Ryan, Press Association

Former Conservative MP Philip Lee has quit the party to join the Liberal Democrats, meaning Boris Johnson's Conservatives no longer have a working majority in the House of Commons even with the support of the DUP.

In a moment of high-drama in the Commons, Dr Lee crossed the floor while the British prime minister was delivering a statement on the recent G7 summit.

In a statement, Mr Lee said: "Over 27 years ago I joined the Conservative & Unionist Party led by Sir John Major.

"Since 2010 I have had the privilege of representing the Bracknell constituency.

"The party I joined in 1992 is not the party I am leaving today.

"This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways.

"It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom.

"More widely, it is undermining our country's economy, democracy and role in the world.

"It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way."

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson welcomed Mr Lee to the party.

Mr Lee was a justice minister from 2016-18.

Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of leading a Government with no mandate, morals or majority after MP Phillip Lee quit the Tories to join the Lib Dems while Mr Johnson was giving his speech.

The Labour leader said MPs must stop the PM from "riding roughshod" over the constitution so that a "cabal" in Downing Street can "crash us out without a deal".

"He isn't winning friends in Europe, he's losing friends at home. His is a Government with no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority," he added.

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