Former Tory leadership contender Sam Gyimah becomes sixth MP to defect to the Lib Dems this year | Daily Mail Online

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Sam Gyimah has been announced as latest defector at the Lib Dem’s first conference with new leader Jo Swinson in charge

Former Tory leadership contender Sam Gyimah has become the sixth MP to defect to the Lib Dems this year as he claims Government is ‘picking and choosing what laws to respect’.

The former Tory party member was one of the 21 who had the Conservative whip removed after they rebelled against Boris Johnson earlier this month.

Mr Gyimah, who represents East Surrey, has been a prominent advocate of a second referendum and was briefly in the race to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader in June.

The newest Lib Dem member was announced by party leader Jo Swinson on the first day of the Lib Dem’s annual conference in Bournemouth.

Announcing his decision, the former education minister said centrists were being ‘cast out of both main parties’.

Chuka Umunna, who left Labour to join the Liberal Democrats earlier this year, tweeted: ‘Absolutely delighted to see @SamGyimah join the @LibDemstoday – just unveiled by @joswinson at #LibDemConf just now.

‘He is a superb addition to the UK’s biggest and strongest #Remain party!’ 

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Sir Ed Davey said Mr Gyimah joining will be a ‘huge boost’ to the party as MP Layla Moran also said she is ‘delighted’ to have him.

Another of those who left the Conservatives earlier in 2019, Sarah Wollaston, added: ‘Awesome to have you join us in the @LibDems @SamGyimah.’

The newest Lib Dem member was announced by party leader Jo Swinson (pictured) at the conference which is being held in the Bournemouth International Centre

Announcing his decision, the former education minister said centrists were being ‘cast out of both main parties’

Sam Gyimah :Former Tory leadership contender who has become sixth MP to defect to the Lib Dems 

Sam Gyimah was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, but split from his single mother aged six and was sent to live in Ghana, before returning to a state comprehensive to complete his GCSEs and A-levels.

He credited ‘good schools with great teachers’ as he earned a place at Somerville College, Oxford, to read philosophy, politics and economics.

His political teeth were cut at the Oxford Union, where he served as president.

Initially employed by Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, where he worked on mergers and acquisitions, Mr Gyimah was added to the Conservative party A-list and selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for East Surrey in 2010 following the retirement of Peter Ainsworth.

He took the seat with a 17,000-vote majority and had only been in Westminster for two years when he was made parliamentary private secretary to then Prime Minister David Cameron.

But he pushed for a bigger role in Government, becoming a whip in 2013 and childcare minister in 2014, with promotions to prisons minister and universities minister soon after. 

Outside Westminster circles, the Arsenal fan increased his following after he appeared to quote from Harry Potter during Question Time.

When discussing US President Donald Trump’s Britain First retweets and Theresa May’s condemnation, he channelled Albus Dumbledore and said: ‘It takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies, it takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends.’

Speaking on stage at the conference, Mr Gyimah said his childhood in Ghana was ‘characterised by adversity’, adding that he was ‘never what you would call a typical Tory’.     

He said that he has known and admired party leader Jo Swinson for a long time: ‘Despite what has been said, the Withdrawal Agreement was the worst of all worlds for the country.

‘It was sold to us as a deal, but what I see is if we exit, and we negotiate the future afterwards, we will be doing so with our hands tied behind our back as a country…

‘Essentially, a government that has made law enforcement the centre-piece of its programme, more police officers to make sure its citizens obey the law, is saying to us it will pick and choose which laws it respects.

‘That is incredibly dangerous. When you are playing fast and loose with our constitution, when you are playing fast and loose with people’s livelihoods, when you are playing fast and loose with people’s security, I think it is right that we all stand up.

‘But when people stand up, you’re called collaborators. You’re called saboteurs. You’re called mutineers. Something has gone wrong.’

Mr Gyimah said it was during the Tory leadership contest that he started to realise that the Conservative Party was turning away from its One-Nation stance.

The 43-year-old added that he entered the Conservative leadership race knowing he had ‘no chance’ of winning.

‘During the course of that leadership race, it became clear that there were too few of us on the Conservative side to keep that fire going on,’ he said.

The Liberal Democrat conference, which is being held in the Bournemouth International Centre, had been shrouded in an air of mystery with rumours that another MP could be about to defect to the anti-Brexit party.  

The running order to a member’s rally that was held at 6.15pm mentioned that leader Jo Swinson would introduce a ‘mystery man’ to the conference hall.

This latest addition makes it six defections so far in 2019.

The Liberal Democrat conference, which is being held in the Bournemouth International Centre, had been shrouded in an air of mystery with rumours that another MP could be about to defect to the anti-Brexit party

The running order to a member’s rally that was held at 6.15pm mentioned that leader Jo Swinson would introduce a ‘mystery man’ to the conference hall after speeches from Lib Dem supporters including the European Parliament’s Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt MEP (right)

The party faithful were already feeling buoyant after a stream of former Tories and Labour MPs joined the party in recent weeks, including former minister Dr Philip Lee and Liverpool Wavertree representative Luciana Berger. 

The defection is more good news for leader Mrs Swinson who is preparing to strengthen her party’s pro-European Union credentials before any upcoming snap election. 

Mr Gyimah said: ‘I was disheartened to find that the way the whipping had been framed was for us MPs to choose our careers, in other words our own salaries, over putting the country first.

He said the Government has been put in a position where ‘no-deal’ is the only thing that can be delivered. 

Mr Gyimah said the Government has been put in a position where ‘no-deal’ is the only thing that can be delivered

He explained his reason for joining the Liberal Democrats was because liberal values were ‘under threat’

Mr Gyimah explained his reason for joining the Liberal Democrats was because liberal values were ‘under threat’.

‘We cannot perceive that our institutions and democracy are immune from populism and nationalism that has tainted other democracies.

‘The Liberal Democrats have a unique opportunity to make sure that we fight to defend these values and create a new force in British politics.

‘I believe this is not about Leave or Remain. I genuinely think that you cannot, the ends justify the means is no way to run a democracy.

‘If you break the rule for yourself, you break the rules for everyone. But the problem is not just on the Conservative side. 

‘When I look across the aisle, I also see on the Labour benches the same issue I have seen on the Conservative side, a doctrinaire, intolerant approach which means centrists are being squeezed out.’

He said the ‘intolerant’ approach of both sides had seen long-established figures like Ken Clarke and Alastair Campbell being made ‘politically homeless’.  

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson got a manicure as she arrived in Bournemouth ahead of the party conference

Earlier in the day, Boris Johnson has been accused of acting like a ‘climate change denier’ in a scathing speech by Liberal Democrats environment spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse.

The Bath MP said the Prime Minister was using language on climate change that was akin to controversial US President Donald Trump.

In the first speech from one of leader Jo Swinson’s top team at the party conference in Bournemouth, she said: ‘Now, like Trump, Johnson is talking about ‘extreme weather conditions’ – he is moving away from the acceptance of climate change.

‘They (the Government) are even talk about reducing fuel duty. These are the words and actions of climate change deniers.’

Boris Johnson has been accused of acting like a ‘climate change denier’ in a scathing speech by Liberal Democrats environment spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse (pictured)

As mayor of London, Mr Johnson shrank the congestion zone but rolled-out a city-wide bike hire scheme and vowed to ‘lie down in front of those bulldozers’ rather than see a third runway built at Heathrow Airport.

Ms Hobhouse said ‘populist’ leaders across the globe were using the impact of climate change to their own advantage.

‘Whether it is Trump, or Bolsonaro, Putin, or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption. Because these are the conditions in which they thrive,’ she told party members at the Bournemouth International Centre.

A group of 17 party members arrived in Bournemouth led by Jo Swinson (centre) – the party’s first ever female leader

In the first speech from one of leader Jo Swinson’s top team at the party conference in Bournemouth, she said: ‘Now, like Trump, Johnson is talking about ‘extreme weather conditions’ – he is moving away from the acceptance of climate change’

She tore into the Conservative administration’s record on reducing the UK’s carbon footprint, and said ministers had ‘destroyed’ the record left by the Lib Dems when they were in coalition between 2010 and 2015.

‘What have the Tories done about the climate emergency in the last four years? Apart from Theresa May’s legacy bill of committing the UK to net-zero by 2050, the Tories have destroyed almost every bit of progress we made during the coalition years,’ she said.

She singled out for criticism the decision to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change and blasted the Government’s policy of pursuing fracking – which has resulted in drilling that has caused earth tremors in Lancashire in recent weeks – as ‘madness’.

The party’s climate change spokeswoman told supporters that the Lib Dems could support future airport expansion – but only if an alternative to jet fuel was found.

‘In aviation, we urgently need to find an alternative to jet fuel. This development could take 15 years. Until then, Liberal Democrats will not support any airport expansion across the UK,’ said Ms Hobhouse.

‘For the Green Party, aviation is the problem, for the Lib Dems, jet fuel is the problem.’

The conference is due to debate the party’s climate change policy, which includes setting up a citizens assembly to decide on how best to tackle the threat of changing weather and rising sea levels, on Monday.

If approved, the idea for citizens assemblies would form part of the Lib Dem manifesto at the next election. 

The party will be discussing ways to scrap Brexit while avoiding a second referendum

The party will also be discussing ways to scrap Brexit while avoiding a second referendum. 

Ms Swinson says holding the 2016 referendum got the UK into a ‘mess’ and will push to revoke Article 50.  

The East Dunbartonshire MP wants to sign her colleagues up to the policy – a move that would cancel the divorce from Brussels without the need for a second referendum. 

Revoking Article 50 – effectively undoing the mechanism under the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that was triggered to start Britain’s withdrawal – would be written into the next Lib Dem election manifesto if members at the conference back the move. 

Ms Swinson says holding the 2016 referendum got the UK into a ‘mess’ and will push to revoke Article 50. Pictured is Ms Swinson smelling a bath bomb 

Until the conference the party have been in favour of a second referendum but have now changed tack and insist that revoking Article 50 is the only satisfactory way out. 

Deputy leader Ed Davey has been campaigning for a second referendum but admitted that it doesn’t look likely it will happen. 

Ms Swinson has insisted that if her party were to come into power they would immediately scrap Brexit. 

The party will also be demanding £5billion per year for the benefits system, reforms on gender equality and help for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives

With a general election expected soon, Ms Swinson has also definitively ruled out any coalition with Conservatives or Labour.

The party’s numbers dwindled after their five-year coalition with the Conservatives and ended up with just eight MPs. 

But a recent boost due to defections from both Labour and the Conservatives over the summer has bumped their numbers to 17.   

The party will also be demanding £5billion per year for the benefits system, reforms on gender equality and help for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives. 

Ms Swinson is expected to take questions from delegates tomorrow, after a speech from her predecessor Vince Cable. 

Her main speech will be held on the last day of the conference, Tuesday, and will follow a tribute to the party’s formed leader who died in December – Paddy Ashdown.  

Chuka Umunna, who joined the Lib Dems under Sir Vince’s leadership, will address party members on Monday in his role as Treasury and business spokesman.

Environment and climate change spokeswoman Vera Hobhouse MP will give her speech on Saturday morning before Baroness Brinton, the party president, closes proceedings in the afternoon.  

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks to weather the storm following the ruling from Scottish judges this week that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Lib Dems are looking to capitalise and mobilise supporters in Dorset in preparation for a snap election.

Deputy leader Ed Davey has been campaigning for a second referendum but admitted that it doesn’t look likely it will happen

Parliament has so far denied Mr Johnson’s request for an autumn trip to the polls as opposition parties look to see the Benn Bill – legislation that demands the PM extend the Brexit deadline until January 2020 rather than take Britain out of the European Union without a deal – enshrined in law.

But with Royal Assent for the Bill now achieved and no majority in the House of Commons for the PM, both the Conservative Party and its rivals are gearing up for another Brexit-themed election.

This content was originally published here.

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