Gauke begs for support before confidence vote

Embattled justice secretary David Gauke has today written to Conservative members in South West Hertfordshire, pleading with them for their support ahead of a No Confidence vote on June 28.

The No Confidence vote will be held at a Special General Meeting, forced by a petition signed by at least 50 grassroots members who accused Mr Gauke of ‘wilful obstruction’ on they key issue of Brexit.

But Mr Gauke insists he should not be deselected, pointing to his support for the government’s Withdrawal Agreement at all three votes. Unfortunately for Mr Gauke, a 1200-strong January poll of Conservative members revealed that a clear majority of Tory members opposed the new European treaty.

It follows a series of similar moves off the back of a nation-wide deselection campaign organised by the Leave.EU campaign group, with Mr Gauke suggesting that ‘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’.

Dr Phillip Lee, who quit his government role last June to oppose Brexit and demand a second referendum, was voted down by his members at the start of the month, while former attorney general Dominic Grieve has been forced to apply for readoption as a candidate after losing a deselection battle in Beaconsfield.

The leader of Change UK, Anna Soubry, also pointed to the targeted deselection campaign as a key reason for her decision to quit the Conservative Party with Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen. A similar petition had been delivered to Ms Wollaston’s constituency association the day before she quit.

Unlike Dr Lee, who was a no show at his own No Confidence vote, Mr Gauke vows to fight the move and tells local activists that “I wanted to contact you to let you know that I will be strongly contesting the motion and urging members to oppose it.”

Only time will tell if he’ll be able to do what a swathe of Remain-leaning MPs have failed to do thus far by stemming the tide of grassroots anger at obstructive parliamentary behaviour.