Tobias Ellwood stripped of Conservative party whip after abstaining in no confidence vote

Tobias Ellwood. Credit: PA

Senior MP Tobias Ellwood has been stripped of the Conservative party whip after he abstained in the support of confidence vote in the government, the Tory whips have said.

This means the Bournemouth East MP will no longer be able to vote alongside fellow MPs in the Conservative leadership election.

Mr Ellwood, the former minister who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, was kicked out of the parliamentary Tory party after abstaining in Monday’s confidence vote.

On Monday evening MPs voted 349 to 238, majority 111, to support the motion stating that the Commons has confidence in the government.

The victory means that Mr Johnson is expected to continue in Downing Street until September, when Tory members chose the winner from the final two selected by Tory MPs.

A spokeswoman for the Tory whips office said: “Tobias Ellwood MP has lost the Conservative party whip following his failure to vote in support of the government in the confidence vote last night.”

Tobias Ellwood said he is “very sorry” to lose the Tory whip but argued he was unable to return from a meeting with the president of Moldova due to “unprecedented disruption”.

In a statement, the senior MP said: “Following my meeting yesterday with the president of Moldova I was unable to secure return travel due to unprecedented disruption both here and in the UK.

“I am very sorry to lose the whip but will now continue my meetings in Ukraine promoting the prime minister’s efforts here and specifically seeking to secure the reopening of Odesa port – so vital grain exports can recommence.”

It comes as Tory MPs will vote again on Tuesday in the Conservative leadership contest. On Monday, backbencher Tom Tugendhat was eliminated from the race.

Mr Ellwood no longer being able to vote in the Tory leadership election means Penny Mordaunt will lose a supporter, ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt pointed out.

On Monday, former chancellor Rishi Sunak got 115 votes, topping the ballot for a third time. International trade minister Penny Mordaunt won 82 votes, foreign secretary Liz Truss 71 and former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch 58.

Mr Tugendhat trailed with 31 votes.

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand said that he imagines the future PM will reinstate Mr Ellwood's party whip - so although he may only lose the whip for two sitting days of parliament, he won't be able to participate in the election of a new party leader.

Mr Ellwood has previously criticised Boris Johnson, and in February publicly submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to the 1922 Committee.

Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood gives his reason for submitting a letter

Explaining why he submitted the letter at the time, he told ITV News that Tory MPs were faced with the "increasingly difficult" task of justifying the alleged Downing Street parties.

"Why doesn't the prime minister call a vote of no confidence in himself so that we can make a judgement as to whether there is the support for him, and then we move on, or it's now time to elect a new leader."

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