Brexit row: Ruth Davidson joins backlash against decision to remove whip from 21 Tory rebels – live news | Politics

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‘Richard bloody Benyon?’ Despite all the threats and aggressive briefings from No. 10 in lead-up, plenty of Tory MPs and aides were still gobsmacked by the unprecedented purge of the moderates we saw last night. When was the last time any major political party threw out more than 20 of its MPs for disobeying orders? Worryingly for Downing Street, even slavishly loyal Brexiteers were unnerved. “It’s like something out of North Korea,” one normally supportive No. 10 aide phoned Playbook to say. “I honestly think they’ve completely overreached. They have f***ed this up. We look bonkers. You’re trying to frame it as parliament vs. the people — and then you deselect 20-odd of your own MPs, including Winston Churchill’s grandson? I mean — deselecting Philip Hammond is one thing, but Richard bloody Benyon? Imagine what we’d be saying if Corbyn did something like this” …

Caught in the middle: Centrist Tory MPs such as ex-Minister Tobias Ellwood told my colleague Annabelle Dickson they too were worried by Downing Street’s response. “It is a sad day indeed when the grandson of Churchill is threatened with deselection,” Ellwood said. “We shouldn’t lose sight of the party we used to be — an open, center-right, one nation, progressive party. Given how many people rebelled under Theresa May’s government it is a worrying precedent that has been set.” Another Tory MP told her the deselections were “completely unacceptable,” adding: “There are a lot of moderate people who won’t be at all happy with this.”

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