by Steve Beasant on 14 September, 2019
Last week, I and twenty brave colleagues took the ultimate step of defying the Conservative whip to make crashing out on October 31st illegal. In an unprecedented move, Boris Johnson withdrew the whip from us all.
I won’t be seeking to get it back. It is with great sadness that I’ve come to realise the Conservative Party is no longer the party I joined more than twenty years ago.
Back then, the party embodied the pragmatic One Nation values I share. I am proud of what we achieved in government, including in coalition with the Liberal Democrats: increasing childcare, same-sex marriage, helping the low paid, balancing the books and backing business.
Since the referendum the Conservative party has drifted away from One Nation values and towards English nationalism.
It’s populist, scorched-earth approach to Brexit, intended to neutralise Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party, is doing profound damage to our institutions, our economy and the integrity of our family of nations.
The change has been even more alarming since Boris Johnson became leader. The party has become more intolerant and doctrinaire; less a broad church, more a narrow sect in which lively, open debate has been replaced by oaths of allegiance.
The Conservative Party no longer has a place for people like me.
At this critical time for our country, I still want to contribute to public life. And as I have worked across parties these last few months for a Brexit resolution it has become clear that the Liberal Democrats under Jo Swinson’s determined leadership are best placed to forge a new liberal movement on the big issues of our time.
That is why I am crossing the floor and joining the Liberal Democrats.
And I know that if everyone who also wants a real alternative gets behind us, their votes will count and we will change our country for the better.
I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead, through Brexit and beyond. But I relish it.
We’re building a big, open, liberal movement to be the voice for the millions of voters who feel powerless and frustrated with the direction our country is taking. And we want you to be part of it.
Join today as a member or register as a supporter – and play your part: