Bridgen: ‘Government right to remove Tory whip from rebel MPs – but not if I vote against’

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: House of Commons/PA.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: House of Commons/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen has offered a bizarre explanation as to why he should not lose the Tory whip if he opposes the government in any Brexit vote – explaining his rebellions were on specific projects.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, the government had said that Boris Johnson would also remove the whip from Brexiteers that vote against any deal that comes back from the EU, something Bridgen admitted had been threatened.

"I don't think he was that explicit but there was certainly a veiled threat that there would be equality across rebels."

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But he said the circumstances were different - and it was right to remove the whip from pro-EU MPs for this week's key votes - but not for Brexiteers in key Brexit votes.

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"I voted personally against the government on many occasions, first of all for the referendum, I voted against the white elephant project HS2 in every occasion it has come before the House, and I voted against the Withdrawal Agreement.

"But I was voting against a specific policy of the government, the rebels yesterday were warned they would lose the whip, and they were told that what they were doing was taking away the ability to negotiate and passing it to the opposition."

Asked if removing the backstop would be enough to vote for Theresa May's deal, Bridgen admitted he probably would not.

"I'd have to take a very long and pragmatic look at whatever Boris Johnson brought back from the European Union, but it's clear there's far more wrong with the Withdrawal Agreement than just the backstop currently."

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