POLITICS
05/11/2019 15:47 GMT | Updated 05/11/2019 17:39 GMT

Philip Hammond To Quit Parliament At General Election

Former chancellor, who was stripped of the Tory whip, says he will devote his time to "widening" the Conservative Party.

Philip Hammond has announced he will quit parliament at the general election and is “saddened” and “aggrieved” at having had the Conservative Party whip withdrawn.

The former chancellor was first elected as the Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge in 1997.

He was one of 21 Tory rebels to be stripped of the party whip by Boris Johnson after they voted to block a no-deal Brexit.

In a dig at Johnson, Hammond said: “The Conservartive Party that I have served has always had room for a wide range of opinions and has been tolerant of measured dissent.”

Hammond said he made the decision after deciding he could not bring himself to stand as an independent candidate against a Conservative on December 12.

“I remain a Conservative and I cannot, therefore, embark upon a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in the general election to the party I have supported all my adult life,” he said in a letter to his constituents.

Hammond added he would devote time after leaving the Commons to “widening” the Conservative Party’s membership to ensure it was a “broad-based, forward-looking, pro-business and pro-markets centre-right party”.

It came as Justine Greening, who served as education secretary but was also among those thrown out of the parliamentary party over Brexit, said she would find it “very hard” to vote Conservative at the general election. 

The outgoing Putney MP also said she struggled to trust Boris Johnson.

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The pro-second referendum MP told BBC Five Live’s Emma Barnett: “I certainly don’t want to see us getting on with what I think would be a very damaging deal for Britain.  So it would be very hard for me to vote for the Conservatives, if I’m looking at what they stand for on Brexit.” 

She added: “Brexit is part of what will drive how I vote, along with millions of other people.  It’s not the whole story.  I’m still a centre-right conservative-minded voter and and indeed politician.  But I have had a fundamental difference with my party on Brexit.  And so, like many people in this country, I’m going to have to weigh it up.”

When asked by Barnett whether she trusted Johnson, Greening said he had changed his mind on backing a third runway at Heathrow.

She said: “Certainly in relation to Heathrow, I’ve been very absolutely disappointed by the fact that, having campaigned with many of us to stop this expansion, he has now seemingly gone back on that word.”

She added: “I find it hard to trust him on other issues when the one that has mattered to me the most as a local campaigner is one that he’s not followed through on.”

More than 60 MPs have so far announced they will quit parliament at the election, including the current culture secretary Nicky Morgan and the former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd.