Tories now the party of leave, says Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter
PUBLISHED: 15:02 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 05 September 2019
There is now no place in the Conservative Party for those committed to remaining in the EU, a Suffolk MP has said.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter - who voted to remain in the 2016 referendum - said that while he wanted the party to remain a broad church on most issues, voters needed to understand it was fully committed to leaving the EU.
And that could lead to major changes in its levels of support across the country - potentially losing parliamentary seats in large cities (especially London) and the South East, but picking up seats in towns and suburban areas in the north of England and the Midlands.
Dr Poulter did not think such a move would change the electoral map of Suffolk much - all the county's constituencies voted to leave the EU in 2016.
He was sorry to see the departure of senior MPs who had had the Conservative whip withdrawn on Tuesday evening, but understood Number 10's rationale for the move.
He said: "I am sorry it happened. Some very distinguished members have lost the whip and some of them are personal friends of mine.
"But these are extraordinary times and the government needs to know that its own MPs will help to get the key legislation through - and Brexit is the key issue at the moment. I can understand why they felt this had to be done."
Dr Poulter, a former health minister who works part-time in a London Hospital, has been critical of some aspects of government health policy.
He said: "It is right that the Conservative Party is a broad church on many issues. That is why I can campaign on health issues. But on a key element of policy like Brexit people have to know that the Conservatives are the party to get us out of the EU."
He accepted this could endanger some Conservative seats in parts of London and the south east where Pro-EU Liberal Democrats could benefit.
But there could be better news in other parts of the country: "We could pick up seats like Darlington and Wakefield where our vote has been going up. The party may well change - but we have to see this through."