Stamford MP Nick Boles given notice to tell party of his plans
Stamford MP Nick Boles has been given 21 days notice for him to tell his constituency Conservative association whether he wants to stand for parliament again or not.
All members of the 50-strong association executive endorsed the move last night, with Mr Boles still keeping mum as to his future intentions.
In a letter to members today, association chairman Philip Sagar said “many members and Conservative Supporters are angry” at the former minister, who threatened to quit the party if necessary to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Boles, who voted Remain in 2016, now says he supports Brexit, but has been pushing for a very soft version known as Norway-plus or Common Market 2.0. Him working with Labour MPs, including Yvette Cooper, to prevent a no-deal Brexit has fuelled suspicions and opposition among local Conservatives.
The MP is set to receive a letter asking him if he wishes to be re-adopted as candidate. If he says he does, he will still need the backing of the association in order to stand again.
Mr Sagar’s letter to members said: “The presumption by the media that this is a move to remove our sitting MP whilst understandable due to what has been reported is NOT the aim of the exercise and it would be unwise to prejudge the outcome.”
Instead, it was a matter of “good housekeeping” to start the re-adoption process, something already done by neighbouring constituencies, particularly as a General Election could be called at any moment.
Mr Sagar continued: “We do hope that media reports that he will seek to frustrate the process are wrong and that he will engage fully with us.
“I feel I need to stress yet again that the Association Executive is merely trying to ascertain what Nick’s intentions are for the future. Most of the Executive, be they detractors or supporters are confused as to his intentions following many of his statements and interviews since the 18th December.
“What matters to the Association is that we have a Conservative candidate in place ready to fight the next election. That could still be Nick, but he now needs to be clear about his future within the Conservative family.”
The Mercury today sought comment from Mr Boles.
However, he told the Sunday Times: “I have no intention of telling them now my plans for an election which is not due to be run until 2022. I will make up my mind when I’m fit and ready and certainly well in advance of the 2022 election, but not before.”
The MP added: “It’s obviously an attempt to give the association an opportunity to vote against my reselection and I’m not intending to give them the pleasure.”
The controversy comes as several Conservative MPs are said to be facing possible deselection, something which led to a staunch defence of the MP today from former party leader Lord Hague.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he described Mr Boles as an “intelligent and active MP” who has busied himself to find a solution to the “intractable” problem of Brexit.
"If any activist thinks the party would be better off without such an individual, they need their head examining.”
MPs, the peer continued, should not have “carte blanche for life” from local activists, particularly if they were "not applying themselves to serving their constituents".
"But attempts to deny the party nomination to MPs who take a different view from the majority or the leadership are another matter, and can poison a party from the inside,” he warned.