Tobias Ellwood stripped of Conservative Party whip after abstaining in confidence vote
Tobias Ellwood has been stripped of the Tory whip after he abstained in the confidence vote in the Government
Mr Ellwood, the former minister who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, was kicked out of the parliamentary Tory party after abstaining in Monday’s confidence vote.
A spokeswoman for the Tory Whips Office said: “Tobias Ellwood MP has lost the Conservative Party whip following his failure to vote in support of the Government in the confidence vote last night.”
Mr Ellwood said he is “very sorry” to lose the Tory whip but argued he was unable to return from a meeting with the president of Moldova due to “unprecedented disruption”.
In a statement, the senior MP said: “Following my meeting yesterday with the president of Moldova I was unable to secure return travel due to unprecedented disruption both here and in the UK.
“I am very sorry to lose the whip but will now continue my meetings in Ukraine promoting the Prime Minister’s efforts here and specifically seeking to secure the reopening of Odesa port – so vital grain exports can recommence.”
Mr Ellwood will no longer be able to vote in the Tory leadership election, given he has had the whip withdrawn.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries angrily denied suggestions that Boris Johnson is working to boost Liz Truss’s campaign for No 10 with the move against Ellwood, given he is a known Penny Mordaunt supporter.
Ms Truss is being backed by Mr Johnson’s allies and is seen as the most likely challenger to face Rishi Sunak in the run-off if she can overcome Ms Mordaunt, who has so far come second in voting among Tory MPs.
With Mr Johnson’s move coming ahead of the penultimate round of voting by Tory MPs on Tuesday afternoon, it prompted speculation that he was working for the benefit of Ms Truss’s campaign.
But Ms Dorries wrote on Twitter: “This is wholly untrue and frankly utterly ridiculous.
“Every single MP of every party is under no illusion regarding the price to be paid in not voting during a Gov confidence motion. It’s a very clearly defined and historic red line. Tobias could have voted like everyone else.”
MPs voted 349 to 238, majority 111, to support the motion stating that the Commons has confidence in the Government, but Mr Ellwood’s name appeared on the no vote recorded list alongside 11 other Conservative MPs.