Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, was close to tears in the Commons as he confirmed he would stand down as an MP after Boris Johnson kicked him out of the party.
Soames said he was “truly very sad that it should end in this way” and begged MPs to “rediscover the spirit of compromise, humility and understanding”.
The Mid Sussex MP was among the 21 Tory rebels targeted for deselection by the PM after they defied Johnson to vote for moves to block a no-deal Brexit.
But Soames also used what could his final speech as MP to take a parting shot at Johnson, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and other ministers who rebelled against Theresa May’s Brexit plans, saying their “serial disloyalty has been an inspiration to so many of us”.
He said: “I have always felt that the referendum result should be honoured and indeed I voted for the withdrawal agreement on every occasion it has been presented to the House, which is more than can be said for the prime minister, the leader of the House and members of the cabinet, whose serial disloyalty has been an inspiration to so many of us.”
He said the anti-no-deal legislation, which forces Johnson to seek an extension to Brexit if the UK still faces crashing out next month was “modest in its ambitions but powerful in its mandate” and that it helps the government “avert disaster”.
He went on to confirm his intention to stand down at the next election, with opposition MPs shouting “shame” at the government front bench.
“I am not standing at the next election and I am thus approaching the end of 37 years’ service to this House, of which I have been proud and honoured beyond words to be a member,” he said.
“I am truly very sad that it should end in this way, and it is my most fervent hope that this House will rediscover the spirit of compromise, humility and understanding that will enable us finally to push ahead with the vital work in the interests of the whole country that has inevitably had to be so sadly neglected whilst we have devoted so much time to wrestling with Brexit.”
During his speech, fellow Tory Sir Oliver Letwin intervened to pay tribute to Soames saying it was a “view shared not just on these benches but across the House” that Soames’ exit “will be a great loss to our party”.