Backbench Tory rebel Stephen Phillips has resigned from parliament, citing “significant policy differences” between himself and the government.
The former Tory MP, who represented the strongly Euroskeptic constituency of Sleaford and North Hyekham in Lincolnshire, has been very vocal in his belief that parliament should have a say in how and whether Brexit goes ahead.
The MP recently went to the Guardian to vent his annoyance at the government’s handling of Brexit. Phillips accused Theresa May of trying to “ignore the views” of parliament by not allowing the overwhelmingly pro-Remain House of Commons more of a say in negotiations on the country’s divorce from Brussels.
This is “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional and cuts across the rights and privileges of the legislature”, according to the MP, who was elected in 2010.
In a statement today on his resignation, he said: “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.”
The council area of North Kesteven, in which Phillips’ constituency lies, overwhelmingly backed Brexit with 62 per cent voting to leave the European Union (EU).
In October the MP, who claims to have voted Leave in June, claimed the government was in danger of replacing “the tyranny of the EU” with “that of a government that apparently wishes to ignore the views of the house on the most important issue facing the nation.”
Phillips has been outspoken in his insistence that Britain should open its doors to thousands of migrants who say they are children.
In April after rebelling against the government’s refusal to accept thousands of “child refugees” staying in Europe, the backbench MP wrote a letter urging Tory MPs to defy the whip if the government refused to back down.
Phillips also penned a piece for the Guardian in support of Britain opening its doors to so-called child migrants in Europe, who he said are “cold and alone”.
George Clark, the chairman of the MP’s local Conservative Association, said the constituency party is disappointed at his resignation and backs May.
In a letter to Phillips, he wrote: “Like 60% of people in North and South Kesteven, you backed a leave vote in that referendum, and we are all pleased to have a strong new prime minister in Theresa May who is committed to delivering its result – and forging a strong, new, positive role for the United Kingdom on the world stage as we leave the EU.”