Philip Hammond has revealed he is taking legal advice on Boris Johnson’s decision to throw him and 20 other Tory MPs out of the party for trying to avoid a no- deal Brexit.
The former chancellor said he was “saddened” at the “purge” led by those who were “serial rebels” under former prime minister Theresa May’s government.
He launch a thinly-veiled attack on Mr Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings, saying he would not be “pushed out” of the Conservatives by “unelected Downing Street advisers who are not Conservatives and who care not one jot whether the party has a future “.
Mr Hammond’s comment came asAmber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, quit, saying the expulsions amounted to an “assault on decency and democracy”.
The comments came in a piece for his local newspaper The Surrey Advertiser, where Mr Hammond defended his decision to support legislation which will force the prime minister to ask Brussels to delay Brexit to avoid no-deal on 31 October.
He insisted “we must get Brexit done” and said the bill which is due to become law on Monday gives Mr Johnson the “time needed genuinely to negotiate a deal”.
The Runnymede and Weybridge MP expressed serious concerns about being punished for supporting the law by no longer be allowed to represent the Conservatives in parliament or stand for them at the next election.
“We all know only too well where that road ends up,” he said.
“I have been a member of the Conservative Party for 45 years; I have been a Conservative MP for 22 years, a front-bencher for 21 of them and a cabinet minister for the last nine years.
“This is my party, and I am not going to be pushed out of it by unelected Downing Street advisers who are not Conserv atives and who care not one jot whether the party has a future.
“Nor will I have my party taken from me by entryists and usurpers who have infiltrated the party ranks, in an attempt to turn it from a center-right broad church into an extreme right-wing faction. “
Mr Hammond added he was taking legal advice on “the lawfulness of actions taken against me and my colleagues”.
“I will decide in due course how I intend to proceed and my colleagues
Mr Johnson has reportedly tried to woo back the Tory rebels he expelled on Tuesday night with a peace offering, but several MPs denied the claim on Saturday.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve told Sky News there has been “none whatsoever” of that.
Ann Milton also told Sky News: “I haven’t received any olive branches. “
But Tory MP Nigel Evans accused Mr Grieve of “carrying on with his war to ensure we don’t leave the EU”.
Another, Daniel Kawczynski, said that “our team captain “was” going into crease “but” some of his own team are trying to break his bat before he takes first ball “.
Earlier this week business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:” It was very clearly stated that Conservative MPs would lose the whip.
“Now 21 of them out of 312 – that is about 6% – chose to vote against the government and they had the whip withdrawn.
“I think it is a shame – a lot of them are very talented people.
“But you cannot have people standing as Conservative MPs when they are against the government policy on the key issue of the day.”
Mr Johnson is braced for a fresh showdown in parliament on Monday when he tries for the second time togain opposition MPs’ backing for a general election.
He is also facing speculation aboutwhether he could be jailedfor failing to ask Brussels to delay Brexit to avoid no-deal next month.