Thu, 05 Sept 2019
RICHARD Benyon's political future will lie with West Berkshire Conservatives, provided his party welcomes him back following his defiance over Brexit.
Mr Benyon backed a motion on Tuesday for Parliament to take control of the agenda in a bid to delay Brexit.
And yesterday the Newbury MP voted in favour of a bill forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend the Brexit date past October 31.
However, Mr Benyon did not vote on the Prime Minister's bid to call an early general election.
Mr Benyon's rebellion against the Government resulted in the party whip being removed.
Speaking to Newburytoday, the chair of the West Berkshire Conservative Association, Claire Rowles, said she was waiting to hear from Conservative Party HQ on what would happen next.
She said that, with the whip withdrawn, Mr Benyon would be unable to stand as a Conservative candidate. But if it was reinstated, association members would have their say.
"He has indicated he will put himself forward and it's up to members to vote on that. Whatever happens the members will select the candidate, that's how it works.
"Is there potential to reinstate the whip, I don't know. That's up to the party. He will still have to be adopted by the association."
Commenting on Mr Benyon's decision, she said: "I'm deeply saddened by the whole thing. Richard has been the MP since 2005 and I believe he is incredibly hardworking, well respected and liked within the association, and wider among residents.
"I think this whole situation, which has been incredibly divisive... it's such a shame that this has happened. Some people will agree with him and some will disagree.
"I'm very saddened by it. He's a man of integrity and professionalism. He's always been incredibly supportive of the association and mindful of his residents and we are potentially going to lose that."
When asked whether she thought the local association would support Mr Benyon, provided he could stand for them, Mrs Rowles said: "He has an enormous amount of support.
"We have worked closely with Richard for a long time. We work together as a team, we're a close strong-knit team.
"At the end of the day this is up to the members to decide if they want Richard as their candidate. He has to come up for re-adoption if he is able to, if not they won't be able to vote on his candidacy.
"The members will decide. I think we are hugely supportive of Richard."
Mr Benyon's political opponents hoping to unseat the Conservatives in an election have reacted to Mr Benyon's revolt against the Government.
Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats, Lee Dillon, said: "Yesterday Parliament ensured that it made its voice heard. It told the Government that it would not leave the EU without a deal.
"But it was more than Parliament, it was individual MPs who put country before party to say that the Government should act in a responsible way. And those MPs that were forced by the Government to rebel, MPs like Richard Benyon, deserve recognition for how they voted.
"Richard and the other rebels took a principled stand last night and have now been chucked out their party because of it.
"A no-deal Brexit hurts those who voted Leave just as much as those who voted Remain and we should be proud a majority of Parliamentarians voted to say no to a no-deal Brexit, including Richard Benyon.
"The Tories only called the referendum because they were scared of UKIP, and now they have been taken over by them, with one nation Tories like Ken Clarke and Richard Benyon facing being silenced if they want to stay in their party.
"In the most right wing Government we have seen, because of principled voting, the Conservatives have now lost their moderate inner voice on Brexit, which the country so badly needs.
"I hope here in Newbury Richard's local party stand behind him in telling the Prime Minister no deal."
Green party candidate Steve Masters said: "I am pleased Richard did what was right for the country in the end. I appreciate it must have been a very difficult decision to make. If he is to stand as an independent I look forward to tackling him on his voting record and support for punitive austerity measures that continue to impact the most vulnerable of our community."
Brexit Party candidate David Jabbari said: "Our party welcomes the fact that Richard Benyon has been deselected, as these MPs have been working to subvert the will of the British people by blocking a clean-break Brexit.
"Of course, I hope the Conservative Party selects a new candidate who believes in Britain's bright future after Brexit for the general election. However, I will be here to offer a democratic alternative to the people of Newbury that is loyal to the referendum result delivered more than three years ago and I will hold the other candidate's feet to the fire on this issue."