Remainer rebel ex-Cabinet minister David Gauke WILL fight the Tories at the general election as he backs a second referendum and claims a Conservative majority government would be a ‘bad outcome’ for the UK
- David Gauke one of 21 Tory rebels stripped of the whip after blocking No Deal
- He will stand in his South West Hertfordshire constituency as an independent
- Announcing his candidacy he launched a stinging attack on Boris Johnson
- Mr Gauke claimed a Tory majority government would be a ‘bad outcome’ for UK
Former Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke has announced he will stand at the general election as an independent candidate as he warned a Conservative majority government would be a ‘bad outcome’ for the UK.
Mr Gauke was one of 21 Tory rebels who were stripped of the whip in September after backing a bid to block a No Deal Brexit.
Ten of those rebels had the whip restored by Boris Johnson but Mr Gauke was not one of them.
He has now said he will contest the election as an independent as he tries to hold onto the South West Hertfordshire seat he has represented in the House of Commons since 2005.
Announcing his candidacy, Mr Gauke launched a stinging attack on Mr Johnson and urged Tory voters to back the Liberal Democrats on December 12 as he also outlined his support for a second referendum.
Mr Gauke said Mr Johnson’s promise that he would not extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of 2020 even if no trade deal has been struck between the UK and the EU was a major factor in why he decided to stand against the Tories.
Critics of Mr Johnson’s strategy believe that his extension vow means the UK will split from Brussels at the end of next year without a trade deal because there will not be enough time for an agreement to be negotiated and ratified.
David Gauke, pictured leaving 10 Downing Street in September, has announced he will stand as an independent candidate at the general election
Mr Gauke launched a stinging attack on Boris Johnson, pictured in a new Tory election advert, as he said the PM’s Brexit approach would be ‘disastrous for the prosperity of this country’
Mr Gauke tweeted: ‘A Conservative majority at the next General Election will pursue a very hard Brexit.
‘Given the refusal to extend the Implementation Period beyond 2020 and the obvious lack of time to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement before then, this means we will be on WTO terms by January 2021.
‘Leaving the IP on WTO terms would be devastating to many sectors of our economy. It’s a thoroughly irresponsible policy.
‘There are many excellent Conservative candidates who I wish well but a Conservative majority at the next election would be a bad outcome for the country.
‘After a great deal of thought I have decided to stand in South West Hertfordshire as an independent candidate. I will campaign for centre ground values and oppose an approach to Brexit that puts our prosperity at risk.’
Mr Gauke went further this morning as he told the BBC a No Deal split from the EU at the end of next year would be ‘disastrous for the prosperity of this country’.
The former justice secretary held his Conservative safe seat at the 2017 general election with a majority of 19,550 votes and he will face a titanic battle to win it as an independent.
His announcement, and his backing for a second referendum, immediately prompted speculation that the Liberal Democrats could stand aside in the seat to boost his hopes of success.
Mr Gauke said today he is not a Liberal Democrat, but risked Tory fury as he suggested pro-EU Conservative supporters should back the ‘Stop Brexit’ party at the ballot box on polling day.
He said: ‘I’m impressed by Jo Swinson, I think if I was living in a lot of constituencies I would lend my vote to the Liberal Democrats.’
Mr Gauke said a soft Brexit now seemed impossible because of the divided nature of the country and that as a result the only way to resolve the situation was to hold a second referendum.
Mr Gauke said he believed a Conservative majority government would be a ‘bad outcome for the country’
He said: ‘My view is the way forward, is now to have – if you like – a confirmatory referendum on Boris Johnson’s deal, now that we know what it is, it is a harder Brexit I think than was promised to the British people in 2016, but a choice of that or remaining within the EU.
‘I think because the consequences of the Boris Johnson deal are so significant, we do need to check back in with the British people and I think it’s perfectly possible for there to be a parliamentary majority for that after the general election.’
Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said Mr Gauke was ‘wrong in what he says about this general election’.
He said: ‘He [Boris Johnson] succeeded in securing that deal in defiance of the sceptics and the cynics and we can secure a free trade agreement by the end of 2020, we can do so, because we start in a position where we have a political declaration that spells out in some significant detail what the nature of what that relationship would be.’
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