‘I’m truly very sad it should end this way’ says Soames after losing Tory whip over no-deal Brexit vote

Sir Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex MP, speaking in the Commons on Wednesday
Sir Nicholas Soames, Mid Sussex MP, speaking in the Commons on Wednesday

An emotional Mid Sussex MP said he was ‘truly very said it should end this way’ after almost 37 years in Parliament.

Sir Nicholas Soames, who represented Crawley from 1983-1997 and then Mid Sussex ever since, lost the Tory whip this week after rebelling against the Government.

He has since announced he will not be standing as a candidate at the next general election.

The motion, which was passed by a majority in the Commons on Tuesday night, and then the subsequent bill debated on Wednesday, seeks to stop the possibility of a no-deal Brexit happening on October 31.

In response Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sought to call a general election, but this was blocked on Wednesday night. Labour figures said the party wanted a general election but stopping a no-deal Brexit was its priority.

A visibly emotional Sir Nicholas told fellow MPs that he had always believed the referendum result must be honoured and had voted for the withdrawal agreement on every occasion in the Commons, something that could not be said for Mr Johnson, leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg or a number of other cabinet members ‘whose serial disloyalty has been such an inspiration to so many of us’.

He described the bill as ‘modest in its ambition but powerful in its mandate’ which ‘merely seeks to avert the immediate risk of the disaster of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October and thereby seeks to give the Government and the house a further opportunity to achieve a resolution on this profoundly difficult issue’.

Addressing his future, Sir Nicholas added: “I will not be standing at the next election, and I am thus approaching the end of 37 years’ service to this house, of which I have been proud and honoured beyond words to be a member.

“I am truly very sad that it should end in this way. It is my fervent hope that this house will rediscover the spirit of compromise, humility and understanding that will enable us finally to push ahead with the vital work in the interests of the whole country that has inevitably had to be so sadly neglected while we have devoted so much time to wrestling with Brexit. I urge the house to support the bill.”

If a general election is called for next month there will only be a small window for the Conservatives to select a candidate to stand in Sir Nicholas’ place.

Charles Worsley, chairman of the Mid Sussex Conservative Association, described how Sir Nicholas had served the area ‘diligently’ since 1997 and wished him and his family well for the future.

He added: “His hard work and dedication to public life has been greatly appreciated by all those who have worked with him and he will be greatly missed.”

He confirmed the association has started the process of selecting a new candidate for Mid Sussex.