Tory MP Sir Charles Walker goes on extraordinary rant in which he lashes out at ‘inexcusable’ behaviour around ‘chaotic’ fracking vote, attacks Liz Truss’ backers and warns party could lose 200 seats at the next election ‘unless we get our act together’
- Sir Charles said he was ‘livid’ after chaotic scenes in the Commons Wednesday
- The Tory MP said the scenes were a ‘pitiful’ reflection on the Conservative Party
- He said he was tired of ‘talentless people’ putting themselves up for positions
- Night of drama followed the dramatic exit of Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Tory MP Sir Charles Walker was ‘livid’ tonight as he lashed out at the ‘inexcusable’ behaviour surrounding the ‘chaotic’ fracking vote in the House of Commons, warning that his party could shed 200 seats at the next general election ‘unless we get our act together.’
In an extraordinary outburst on BBC News, the backbencher said he had not seen ‘anything like it’ after he and his fellow Conservative MPs were initially told they would lose the whip if they voted down Liz Truss’ fracking bill, in what was essentially rebranded as a confidence vote in the prime minister as she clings onto power.
However chaotic scenes unfolded shortly before the vote at 7pm, after climate minister Graham Stuart announced in the Commons chamber that, contrary to what MPs had been told earlier, it was not being treated as a vote of confidence in the Government – which was apparently news to Tory whips.
There were then reports of Tory MPs being ‘dragged in’ to vote with the Government, with Labour MP Chris Bryant calling for an investigation into what he described as ‘bullying’ tactics that were ‘completely out of order.’
Amid the carnage, Truss’ Chief and Deputy Chief whips dramatically stormed out of the Commons and declared they were resigning, with one reportedly exclaiming: ‘I don’t give a f**k anymore.’ Downing Street later claimed they would be remaining in their posts.
Although Ms Truss eventually won the vote by 326 to 230, it followed another tumultuous day in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman was forced to resign for reportedly using her private email for government business, before she was hastily replaced by former transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Speaking after Wednesday night’s vote, Sir Charles, MP for Broxbourne since 2005, said he is leaving Parliament at the next general election voluntarily, adding: ‘Unless we get our act together and behave like grown-ups, I’m afraid many hundreds of my colleagues, perhaps 200, will be leaving at the behest of their electorate.’
He said the chaotic scenes were a ‘pitiful reflection on the Conservative Parliamentary Party at every level’, adding that it ‘reflects really badly, obviously, on the Government of the day.’
Then, in a sharp-tongued missive to Truss’ backers, he added: ‘I really shouldn’t say this but I hope that all those people that put Liz Truss in Number 10, I hope it was worth it.
Tory MP Sir Charles Walker (pictured) was ‘livid’ tonight as he lashed out at the ‘inexcusable’ behaviour surrounding the ‘chaotic’ fracking vote in the House of Commons, before warning that his party could shed 200 seats at the next general election ‘unless we get our act together’
The barely believable scenes in the division lobbies – captured on camera by Labour MP Chris Bryant in defiance of Commons rules – were the latest evidence of the wheels falling off Liz Truss’s administration
‘I hope it was worth it for the ministerial red box. I hope it was worth it to sit around the Cabinet table, because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.’
He added: ‘I’ve had enough of talentless people putting their tick in the right box, not because it is in the national interest but because it is in their own personal interest to achieve ministerial position.’
Senior Labour MP Chris Bryant said there was pandemonium outside the division lobbies ahead of the vote, with MPs opposed to the lifting of the moratorium on fracking uncertain what would happen to them if they sided with the opposition.
In the chaos, Mr Bryant said that Alex Stafford, the Tory MP for Rother Valley, was bundled into the ‘no’ lobby.
‘There was a bunch of Conservative members obviously completely uncertain whether they were allowed to vote with Labour or against it,’ he told Sky News.
‘There was a group including several Cabinet ministers who were basically shouting at them. At least one member was physically pulled through the door into the voting lobby. That is completely out of order.
‘I know that Therese Coffey was in the group. I know that Jacob Rees-Mogg was in the group, and there were others as well. The group all moved forward with one member.
‘It was Alex Stafford. He was, to my mind, physically manhandled into the lobby.’
After declaring that the vote was an issue of confidence – which meant it could have collapsed the government – Ms Truss seemed to change her mind when it became clear she would have to suspend dozens of her own MPs.
That is said to have prompted a confrontation with chief whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker, culminating in them storming out and telling colleagues they had resigned. Mr Whittaker reportedly declared: ‘I am f***ing furious and I don’t give a f*** any more.’
However, in another twist Downing Street sources insisted they had not departed. By 9pm, Ms Coffey was telling reporters outside the Carlton Club – where with exquisite timing the entire Cabinet was due to attend a dinner for the centenary of the agreement that sunk Lloyd George’s government – that Ms Morton had won a ‘great victory’ by defeating the Labour motion.
And No10 confirmed at 9.49pm that the pair were indeed remaining in post.
The barely believable scenes in the division lobbies – captured on camera by Labour MP Chris Bryant in defiance of Commons rules – were the latest evidence of the wheels falling off Ms Truss’s administration.
Hours earlier Home Secretary Suella Braverman was forced to resign, ostensibly for breaching protocol by sending an email from her personal account to a contact revealing details of an announcement on immigration policy.
But in another hammer blow for the PM’s chances of clinging on, she also complained that the government was breaking promises on migration. She swiped that when people made ‘mistakes’ – something Ms Truss has admitted – the right thing to do was quit.
Suella Braverman (left) dramatically quit as Home Secretary today as Liz Truss’s (right) crisis deepened
In a letter, Ms Braverman said she was resigning for breaching processes by sending an email from her personal account about a forthcoming ministerial statement on immigration
Ms Truss responded with a much briefer letter saying it is ‘important the Ministerial Code is upheld’
Ms Truss responded with a much briefer letter saying it is ‘important the Ministerial Code is upheld’ and quickly installed Grant Shapps – previously a strident critic and Rishi Sunak supporter – as a replacement.
MPs have started describing the Cabinet as a ‘caretaker’ government, and many do not believe that Ms Truss can even survive until the Halloween Budget regardless of divisions over who should take over.
One of her staunchest supporters, former Brexit minister Lord Frost tonight said that she needs to go.
Labour had tabled a motion trying to ban fresh drilling and Tory whips told backbenchers it was a ‘confidence motion’ that could in theory bring down Ms Truss. They threatened to kick rebels out the party if they did not vote with the Government.
But a hardcore group of MPs including environmentalists and those in seats threatened with new drilling vowed to ignore them, especially after minister Graham Stuart at the last minute suggested it was not a confidence motion after all.
No Tories voted against the government but 40 abstained – including Kwasi Kwarteng, who was chancellor until last week.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘Late in the day, a junior official at 10 Downing Street sent a message through to the front bench that it was not a vote of confidence and nobody else was aware of that.
‘The whips were not aware of that, I was not aware of that and most members thought that it was a vote of confidence. It was simply one of those unfortunate miscommunications that occasionally happens.’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is expected to investigate the claims of bullying outside the voting lobbies after several MPs said they were shocked by what they saw.
Labour MPs reported screaming and shouting and Tory MPs being dragged in to vote with the Government.
Shadow minister Anna McMorrin wrote on Twitter that she witnessed one Conservative MP ‘in tears’ in the lobby.
One Tory MP who saw the ‘carnage’ in the lobbies said: ‘I was waiting for the votes and then Craig Whittaker came out crying and saying he’s sick of everything. Then Wendy came out stony faced. The other whips say they have quit. It was absolute carnage.’
One miserable Cabinet source told MailOnline: ‘At this rate I’m going to be PM by Christmas.’
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