Boris Johnson removes Tory whip from MP who stopped Chris Grayling becoming chair of intelligence committee

PUBLISHED: 21:29 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 21:36 15 July 2020

Tory MP Julian Lewis. Photograph: House of Commons.

Tory MP Julian Lewis. Photograph: House of Commons.

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Boris Johnson has removed the Tory whip from one of his MPs who successfully outmanoeuvred Downing Street to take the role of chair of the House of Commons Intelligence committee over Chris Grayling.

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Dr Julian Lewis secured the role despite widespread expectation that Grayling would receive the backing of the Conservative-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee.

In a move that caught Westminster by surprise, the Tory leadership then took disciplinary action against Dr Lewis as a government source said the MP had “acted with the opposition for his own advantage”.

Johnson was widely believed to want former transport secretary Grayling to become the chairman of the body which oversees the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

But the committee members voted instead for former defence select committee chairman Dr Lewis.


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Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the move against Dr Lewis “grubby”.

She tweeted: “Julian Lewis MP has the Tory Whip removed after being elected as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee, after beating hapless Chris Grayling. I wonder who in No10 ordered that the long serving Tory MP had the whip removed? What a grubby shower they are!”

Labour former frontbencher Chris Bryant posted: “It’s a momentous failure of intelligence when a PM takes months to handpick Intelligence and Security Committee members so as to deliver the Chair he wants and they refuse to do his bidding. To then chuck the new chairman out of the party is to lose control/the plot.”

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald MP said: “This is another total shambles from the Tory government, which has failed to put in place a functioning Intelligence and Security Committee for more than six months since the election.

“With his abysmal record of failure as a Tory minister, Chris Grayling is the only man who could lose a rigged election but it is right the committee has elected a chair and it should now get on with the crucial job of ensuring scrutiny and oversight of security matters, after months of delay.”

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy wrote: “Remarkable. It doesn’t stop Julian being chair of committee or sympathy for him across house. It does make it more likely the long overdue report into Russian interference in our political system is published. A set of own goals of which even Sunderland would be proud ....”

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