- Ex-Conservative Sam Gyimah becomes the Liberal Democrats’ 18th member of Parliament.
- Gyimah was unveiled as a Lib Dem MP at the party’s conference in Bournemouth on Saturday.
- He has joined the anti-Brexit party after being a Conservative MP for nearly a decade.
- He accused Boris Johnson’s Conservative party of veering towards “English nationalism.”
- He is the latest MP to switch to the Lib Dems having represented other parties.
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Former government minister Sam Gyimah has joined the Liberal Democrats.
The member of Parliament for East Surrey was unveiled as a Lib Dem MP at the party’s annual autumn conference in Bournemouth, southern England, on Saturday evening. Party leader Jo Swinson revealed him to party members.
Gyimah said he was “delighted” to be joining the party “at this pivotal time in our country’s politics.”
He said: “The two old parties [Conservatives and Labour] have moved to the edges of the political spectrum – each with their own brand of intolerance and division – leaving millions politically homeless. It doesn’t have to be like this.
“Jo [Swinson] is leading a real movement to unite the centre, bringing together liberal-minded people to offer a real alternative.”
He said he quit being a Conservative having served as one of the party’s MPs for nearly ten years because “Boris Johnson created a stark choice for moderate, progressive MPs in the Conservative party; to accept a No-Deal Brexit or walk away from public life.”
In an interview with The Observer, Gyimah added that he had felt like an “outcast” in the Conservative party.
While he strongly disagrees with the government’s handling of Brexit, he said his opposition to his former Conservative party went “beyond Brexit,” and accused it of “veering towards populism and English nationalism.”
He said: “I listen to ministers undermining the courts. Ministers questioning experts because their views are inconvenient for what the government is saying about no deal.
“Or you have a government that says law enforcement is the centrepiece of its platform, and yet says in another breath that it will pick and choose what laws it chooses to respect.
“This is in many ways undermining key pillars of our constitution and the functioning of our democracy.”
Gyimah is the Lib Dems’ 18th MP and the latest to make the switch having represented another party.
Former Conservative MPs Sarah Wollaston and Phillip Lee have joined the anti-Brexit party in recent weeks, as well as former Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Angela Smith.
Ex-Labour and Change UK MP Chuka Umunna switched earlier this year.
Here’s the moment Gyimah was unveiled as a Lib Dem MP
Sam Gyimah MP gets quite the reception as he's unveiled to Lib Dem members pic.twitter.com/sLcnJrbdD0
— Patrick Daly (@bypatrickdaly) September 14, 2019
Lib Dem leader Swinson said Gyimah’s defections sends “a powerful message.”
She said: “It is clear that the Liberal Democrats are the rallying point for people who want to remain in the EU, and who value an open, fair and inclusive society. “Sam has been my friend for more than 10 years and I am simply over the moon that I am able to welcome him to the party.”
Who is Gyimah?
Gyimah was a Conservative MP for nearly a decade until he lost the whip earlier this month.
He was sacked as a Conservative MP after rebelling against Boris Johnson’s government to vote for legislation designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit taking place in October.
Gyimah has been a vocal critic of the Conservative government’s handling of Brexit and earlier this year came out in support of a new referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.
He stood as a candidate in the contest to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader and prime minister, but was eliminated in the early stages after failing to win sufficient support from other Tory MPs.
May appointed Gyimah as universities minister in January 2018.
However, he resigned eleven months later in November in protest against her Brexit plan.