Brexiter criticised government attempt to negotiate exit without parliamentary scrutiny as well as party’s ‘lurch to the right’
A Conservative MP who has resigned after criticising Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit process has told friends that the Tory party has become “Ukip-lite”.
Stephen Phillips, who voted for Britain to leave the EU, blamed “significant policy differences” between himself and the government for his decision to quit as MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, in Lincolnshire.
A friend of Phillips said: “It’s about values. The values of this government are not his values. They’ve lurched to the right and become Ukip-lite. He is not.”
The friend added that two of the key issues were “their failure to honour their promises on child refugees [and] the decimation of international aid to the poorest and most vulnerable in the world”.
“Brexit is part of it, because they think they can do what the hell they like without asking parliament. But it’s only a small part of it. It’s the fact that he is not a Conservative in this mould,” the friend added.
Phillips said it had been an honour to serve for six years, but added: “It has become clear to me over the last few months that my growing and very significant policy differences with the current government mean that I am unable properly to represent the people who elected me.
“This decision has been a difficult one and I hope that everyone will respect the fact that I have tried to act in the best interests of all of my constituents.”
Shortly after the announcement, the outgoing MP appeared to have made his parliamentary website and Facebook page unavailable to view.
Phillips recently told the Guardian he was angry about the way the government was handling Brexit. He accused it of being intent on negotiating “without any regard to the House of Commons” in a way that was “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional and cuts across the rights and privileges of the legislature”.
The prime minister had already lost one Conservative MP when Zac Goldsmith resigned in protest at a decision to allow the expansion of Heathrow airport. His decision triggered a byelection in Richmond Park, south-west London…
But by October, Phillips was strongly objecting to the handling of Brexit, saying: “I and many others did not exercise our vote in the referendum so as to restore the sovereignty of this parliament only to see what we regarded as the tyranny of the European Union replaced by that of a government that apparently wishes to ignore the views of the house on the most important issue facing the nation.”