Guido readers will be aware that Justice Secretary David Gauke is facing a Special General Meeting of his local association at the end of the month to hear a motion of no confidence in him as an MP. This morning he has written to local members urging them to support him, despite going against his manifesto commitment that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Despite pushing for the softest Brexit possible, and helping to block the UK’s exit on 29th March – voting against exiting on WTO terms, Gauke claims he has not obstructed Brexit. He also hits out at the person who started the petition, alleging entryism. It’s going to be a messy fight…
Read his letter in full below…
As you will be aware, members of South West Hertfordshire Conservative Association have received an invitation to attend a Special General Meeting (‘SGM’) on 28 June to debate a vote of no confidence in me. The motion accuses me of ‘wilful obstruction’ of Brexit. The Association is obliged to hold an SGM if requested by 50 members and such a petition has recently been submitted.
I wanted to contact you to let you know that I will be strongly contesting the motion and urging members to oppose it. In advance of the meeting, I wanted to highlight a number of key points.
First, far from obstructing Brexit, I have voted three times for the Withdrawal Agreement. Had everyone in Parliament voted the way I had, the UK would have left the EU in March. I appreciate that some people would prefer a different form of Brexit but, given that the Conservative Manifesto said that we should seek a smooth and orderly Brexit and a deep and special partnership with the EU, I do not accept that voting to support Government policy constituted a failure to abide by the manifesto.
Second, I wanted to provide some background on the petition. The list of members requesting an SGM was compiled by someone who only joined the Conservative Party in February. He recently told a journalist that he joined the party partly to “have influence over how Mr Gauke behaves”. I understand a number of the signatories have only been members of the party for less than a year and that the campaign is being backed by Leave.EU, an organisation funded by Arron Banks.
In April, I met with the person behind the motion. He made it clear to me that if I publicly supported the idea of leaving the EU without a deal, he would not seek to deselect me. I responded by saying I could not argue for a course of action I believed to be wrong, even if though I realised he would seek my deselection.
I recognise that not everyone agrees with my position on leaving the EU without a deal, but I hope it is also appreciated that I have to act on the basis of what I think is best for the country.
The SGM has already attracted some national attention. In my view, it is a process which is likely to highlight division and create negative publicity for the Conservative Party. I appreciate that there are strongly held views on the subject of Brexit but deselecting MPs in these circumstances is likely to narrow our support and make it less likely that we will be electorally successful in future.
It is a very great privilege to represent South West Hertfordshire and it is my determination to continue to do so. I hope that you will be able to attend the meeting on 28 June and help me to defeat the motion.
David Gauke MP