PUBLISHED: 17:07 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 18 July 2019
Broadland MP Keith Simpson. Picture: Colin Finch
A Norfolk Tory grandee has voted against the government for the first time in his 22-year parliamentary career as he cannot trust Boris Johnson.
Keith Simpson, who represents Broadland, was one of 17 Conservatives who voted on an amendment in the House of Commons on Thursday, and the result could now thwart efforts by the next prime minister to force through a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Simpson said he had been mulling over the decision for the last 24 hours, but prime ministerial favourite Boris Johnson’s failure to rule out suspending parliament to force through a no deal Brexit in October had forced his hand.
Rival Jeremy Hunt has dismissed the move.
Mr Simpson said: “Quite frankly I don’t trust Boris.”
The amendment, which passed by 315 votes to 274, will require progress reports on restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland – a separate issue – to be debated regularly in parliament.
But it would effectively prevent it being prorogued, and means MPs could have a chance to block a no deal exit – something they have repeatedly voted against.
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Mr Simpson said: “What it’s doing is to try and prevent the new prime minister from opting for a no deal Brexit, which most of the businesses I’ve spoken to say they are against.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done it [voted against the government], I always intended to vote for my party and the government, quite frankly I don’t trust Boris.”
He added: “There’s a large minority of Conservative MPs that question his judgement on [Brexit].”
Mr Simpson said he had expected the vote to be closer than it was, and therefore wanted to make his vote count.
But he said around 40 Tory MPs were down as abstaining, alongside the 17 – including ministers – who voted against the party.
“I take it very seriously,” he said. “It’s not to question Brexit, it’s how we go about it.”
Liberal Democrat for North Norfolk Norman Lamb, and Labour’s Clive Lewis, for Norwich South, voted for the amendment.
Norfolk and Waveney’s other Tory MPs Richard Bacon, Sir Henry Bellingham, George Freeman, Brandon Lewis, Liz Truss, and Peter Aldous all voted with the government.
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