Tobias Ellwood Says A Melting Runway Stopped Him Making Confidence Vote

The outspoken Boris Johnson critic has had the Tory whip removed.
Tobias Ellwood speaking to the media following the resignation Boris Johnson.
Tobias Ellwood speaking to the media following the resignation Boris Johnson.
Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images

Tobias Ellwood has said a melting runway was one of the main reasons why he failed to take part in a vote of confidence in the government.

The defence select committee chairman had the Tory whip withdrawn after he remained in Moldova during the crunch debate.

Ellwood is one of Boris Johnson’s most outspoken critics and repeatedly called on the prime minister to quit before his eventual resignation.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “I deeply regret losing the whip, I do hope it’s only temporary.”

Conservative sources have claimed that Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, had ignored their demands for him to return to the UK to take part in the vote, which the government won with a majority of 111.

But Ellwood said: “I didn’t ignore it at all, I kept the whips’ office informed the entire time.

“There were few options to get back, but there were problems with travel in the UK - runways melting, I understand - and there were also security issues in Moldova too, and the combination of that meant that the few options I had to get back in time for that vote then disappeared.

“I am very sorry I didn’t make it back, but there’s not much I can say.”

Ellwood said he hoped the new prime minister, who will be announced on September 5, will let him have the whip back.

Critics have claimed that Ellwood had the whip removed so he could not vote for Penny Mordaunt in the Tory leadership contest.

But the MP said: “I think the nation has had enough of the blue on blue.

“Wider picture - step back from this. It does feel in the last couple of weeks that we’ve lost our way a little bit. It’s been a sad chapter in the history of our great party.

“The nation wants to be impressed and inspired, not demoralised by what they’re witnessing right now and we need to exhibit greater decorum, dial the temperature down a bit, showcase the ideas, the vision, and focus on the things that are important, that the nation wants to see.

“That’s what will earn us the right to stay in government, otherwise we’re just going to be letting ourselves down and indeed committing ourselves to a long spell in opposition.”

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, defended the decision to remove the whip from Ellwood.

He told Sky News: “This was a vote that was known about days in advance and Mr Ellwood chose to go to Moldova. That was his decision, but ultimately I’m afraid to say a very serious mistake.”


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