Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd has resigned the party whip in order to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The Eastbourne MP - who is one of 12 Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons - said he could not reconcile the party’s anti-Brexit stance with the will of his constituents. Some 57% of them voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
Lloyd told the Eastbourne Herald on Thursday: “I have come to the conclusion that I cannot honestly uphold the commitment I made... to accept the result of the referendum, vote for the deal the prime minister brought back from the EU and not back calls for a second referendum - whilst supporting the Lib Dem parliamentary party’s formal position of voting against Theresa May’s deal and advocating a ‘People’s Vote’.”
The Lib Dems want a second referendum on the Brexit deal, saying voters should be given the chance to “exit from Brexit”.
Despite resigning the whip - the internal rules a political party impose on their MPs - Lloyd will remain an MP for the Lib Dems.
He said he had “nothing but respect and affection” for the party’s leader Vince Cable and his Commons colleagues.
“I will not cease fighting hard for liberal values, both locally and nationally,” Lloyd added.
Reacting to the news, a spokesperson for the Lib Dems said the party was “sorry to see him go”, adding that the Brexit vote had posed a “difficult decision” for Lloyd.
“Liberal Democrats are clear that we will be voting against Theresa May’s deal,” they said.
“The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for an exit from Brexit and a People’s Vote where people can choose to remain in the European Union since the referendum was held. We will continue to fight for this in Parliament.”