Tory MP defects to Lib Dems over government's 'political manipulation, bullying and lies'

PUBLISHED: 15:49 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 18:28 03 September 2019

MP Phillip Lee. Photograph: Houses of Parliament.

MP Phillip Lee. Photograph: Houses of Parliament.

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A Conservative MP has launched a blistering attack on the "unprincipled" approach to Brexit in Boris Johnson's government as he leaves the party to join the Liberal Democrats.

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Phillip Lee, the MP for Bracknell, said he had given the issue a "great deal of thought" but had concluded the government is "undermining our country's economy, democracy and role in the world".

He is the fourth MP to join the pro-Remain party in the last few months.

Speaking after joining the party, 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.

"That is why today I am joining Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats. I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society - and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations."

In 2018, Lee quit a ministerial position to fight Brexit.

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Welcoming Lee, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said: "I am delighted to welcome Phillip to the Liberal Democrats at this crucial time.

"He brings almost 10 years of parliamentary experience and decades of professional expertise. He shares our commitment to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit, and to stop Brexit altogether.

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"The Liberal Democrats are growing. Phillip follows both Chuka Umunna MP and Sarah Wollaston MP in bravely crossing the floor to join us.

"Today, we also welcome Jane Dodds MP to Parliament, following her recent victory in Brecon and Radnorshire. And these representatives join over 30,000 new members, who have joined the Liberal Democrats since our best ever results in the European elections in May."

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