Theresa May sacks rebel MP from vice chairman role after parliamentary defeat

Theresa May has attempted to reassert her authority after a humiliating defeat in a crucial Brexit vote by sacking rebel MP Stephen Hammond from his role as Conservative Party vice chairman.

A Number 10 source confirmed Mr Hammond was sacked after backing a rebel amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to ensure MPs and peers have a "meaningful vote" on the exit deal.

The Wimbledon MP was appointed Tory vice chairman for London in July, as the party sought to rebuild following the disastrous election campaign which saw it lose seats to Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the capital.

Before the news broke, Mr Hammond said the rebels had been prepared to work with the UK Government to ensure a meaningful vote.

On Sky News, he went on: "It's disappointing, it gives me no pleasure to vote against the Government but I've made it very clear that for me, this was a point of principle and just occasionally in one's life one has to put principle before party.

"I know that sounds pompous but I've never done it before."

Mr Hammond said any pressure applied by Tory whips had not worked.

"You know, I'm an old lag so nothing can really work for me I'm afraid," he said.

"I had told the Government that this is what I intended to do unless we got the concessions I was looking for and therefore I'm afraid with a heavy heart I voted against the Government."

Mr Hammond added: "I think the Government could have been a little bit swifter of foot, I think there was a way out of this, we were all very close but the Government chose not to move that way."

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