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Calls for Rishi Sunak to suspend Tory MP for endorsing Reform’s Lee Anderson

11 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Reform MP Lee Anderson who has revealed he will not be campaigning in certain Tory constituencies due to his friendships with the current MPs. Photo Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak faces calls to suspend the whip from another of his MPs after a backbencher endorsed Reform UK’s Lee Anderson.

Earlier today, Mr Anderson revealed he will not be campaigning in certain Tory constituencies due to his friendships with the current MPs, including Don Valley’s Nick Fletcher.

Following this, Mr Fletcher took to social media to endorse Mr Anderson as Ashfield’s “greatest champion”, adding he needs to be back in Westminster after the election.

This has drawn criticism from the Liberal Democrats who claimed even Conservative MPs do not want the party to succeed at the general election.

Non-aggression pact

Announcing his non-aggression pact, Mr Anderson said he will not campaign against Tory MPs Ben Bradley (Mansfield), Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw), Marco Longhi (Dudley North) and Mr Fletcher.

The Ashfield MP said that “friendship means more” to him, adding that the four MPs had reached out to him following his defection.

The former Tory deputy chairman defected to Reform earlier this year, after he was stripped of the whip for suggesting London Mayor Sadiq Khan was being controlled by Islamist extremists.

Recent polls have put Reform just several points behind the Conservatives, with some fearing the party could make further gains if its founder Nigel Farage takes on a more prominent role.

In a post on X, Mr Fletcher said: “I so wish @LeeAndersonMP_ had remained with the Conservatives. However having lost the whip it would mean the Conservative Party would choose someone other than Lee to fight the election in Ashfield.

“I can understand in those circumstances why he joined Reform. Ashfield has its greatest champion and I hope they appreciate what he has done for his home town and his country at the next election.

“I hope my constituents see that a vote for me in Doncaster is also the right thing to do. I am a lone voice in Parliament shouting up for Doncaster.”

Personal friend

Mr Fletcher issued a follow-up post stating: “For the avoidance of any doubt of course I want to see a Conservative majority Government returned at the next election with as many Conservative MPs as possible.

“Lee is a personal friend but we can’t risk the damage a Labour Government would do to our country.”

The PA news agency understands that Mr Fletcher was spoken to by the Government’s Chief Whip Simon Hart.

The Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader Daisy Cooper has called on the Prime Minister to kick Mr Fletcher out of the party, adding that a failure to do so would show he is “too weak” to control his MPs.

Ms Cooper said: “It seems even Conservative MPs don’t want the Conservatives to win. Voters are sick to the back teeth of this never-ending circus of infighting.

“Rishi Sunak needs to find his backbone and kick Nick Fletcher out of the Conservative Party.

“Failure to do so would show yet again that he’s too weak to control his party let alone govern the country.”

Potential expulsion

According to Conservative party rules, members are required to “sustain and promote the objects and values of the Conservative Party” and endorsing rival candidates could be grounds for a disciplinary investigation and potential expulsion.

Mr Anderson’s Facebook post said: “My Friends. Meet Ben Bradley MP Brendan Clarke-Smith MP Marco Longhi MP & Nick Fletcher MP.

“These people are my friends and the ones that reached out to me last month.

“They will always be my friends and because of this I will not campaign against them in their Parliamentary seats.

“Friendship means more to me. Every other seat is fair game.”

Mr Anderson is a former Labour councillor and he served as office manager to Ashfield’s last Labour MP, Gloria De Piero.

Following Mr Anderson’s announcement, Reform UK said it respects Mr Anderson’s personal decision but the party will continue with its election campaigns in these seats.

A Reform UK spokesperson said: “Lee Anderson made it clear from the day he joined Reform UK that he would not personally campaign against a handful of his close friends.

“The party respect this decision and it shows Lee’s loyalty to his friends, which goes beyond politics.

“Reform will be standing in these constituencies and will be fighting the Conservatives across the board in England, Wales and Scotland.

“The Tories have betrayed the country by failing to control our borders and allowing our public services to crumble. We will punish them at the general election.”

The Conservative Party has been contacted by PA news agency for comment.

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

The Conservatives & Reform UK are akin to two toothless hags fighting over whose turn is it to suck a barley sugar boiled sweet.

1 month ago

Anyone told ARTD? I though 30p was his BFF, not some other MP. Is 30p cheating on ARTD?
Or is Gullis ARTD new muse?

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