Claire Perry remains loyal in the Tory backbench tumult over Europe and the Queen’s Speech
Two of Wiltshire’s five Conservative MPs joined the embarrassing backbench rebellion in the House of Commons last night (Wednesday) over the lack of EU referendum legislation in the Queen’s Speech.
But they did not include Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, who, as expected, remained defiantly loyal having never voted against the government since she became a MP in 2010.
And that was despite the fact that Defence Minister Philip Hammond -- she is his parliamentary private secretary – has announced that he would vote against staying in the European Union if given the opportunity.
A total of 114 Tory MPs joined the unprecedented revolt that has undermined the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, among them James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire and Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon South.
Their overwhelming vote is believed to be the first time since 1946 that members of a governing party have voted against a Queen’s Speech, one that identifies the deep division in the party ranks over Mr Cameron’s coalition partnership with the Liberal Democrats.
Conservative support for the motion was bigger than expected and equal to more than a third of all the party’s MPs, the amendment calling for referendum legislation being defeated by 272 votes to 130.
The tumult added to concerns that UKIP, whose surge in support in the local council elections has alarmed all the three main political parties, will challenge 49-year-old Mrs Perry at the next General Election.
She has declined a request from Marlborough News Online to issue a statement on her position, which has been undermined by former Tory MP Neil Hamilton, the UKIP chairman in Wiltshire, announcing that he may stand against her at the next election.
In a pre-vote statement he told Marlborough News Online: “The one thing she (Mrs Perry) won't do, is make her decision on a point of principle -- giving the British people the right to decide whether they want to continue being ruled by the incompetent spendthrifts and gravy-trainers of Brussels. No-one under the age of 58 has ever had the chance to vote on this.”
And he added: “Disraeli said the Tory maxim was 'Trust the People.' But Dave is no Disraeli. Disraeli also called a Conservative government 'an organised hypocrisy.'
“No-one could accuse the present lot of that -- the one thing they are not is organised. We have learned that in the last week, if nothing else."
Tory MP John Barron, who proposed the rebel amendment, called on Mr Cameron to do more to deliver legislation for a EU referendum, previous promises not being good enough to persuade sceptical voters.
“The political establishment has essentially closed ranks over the last 30 years and denied the electorate a choice,” he protested.
“We have a golden opportunity to right this wrong. We should be bold of heart, seized the moment and do what is right by the electorate."
I was in Dublin for that EU referendum vote on the Queen’s Speech reveals Claire Perry
Devizes MP Claire Perry has revealed that she was in Dublin on Tuesday and was among the 187 Tory MPs who were not in the House of Commons to vote on the rebel Queen’s Speech amendment.
She is in fact a supporter that there should be an EU referendum, as proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron, and has revealed “if the amendment increases the chances of that event” then she approved of such a move.
But it was defeated.
Equally fascinating will be next week’s vote on same sex marriage legislation, again which Mrs Perry supports. That will put her in contention with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who is opposed to the legislation, which we not in the Tory Party manifesto at the last election.
Mr Hammond says the legislation has caused serious upset among thousands of Tory Party supporters.
Mrs Perry is his parliamentary private secretary.