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Justice secretary survives no-confidence vote

Justice Secretary David Gauke has comfortably survived a no-confidence motion brought by Tory opponents of his pro-Remain views in his constituency.

A motion accusing him of "wilful obstruction" of the 2016 EU referendum result was defeated by 123 votes to 61 at a meeting of Conservative members in his South West Hertfordshire constituency.

Mr Gauke and his supporters had claimed that the no-confidence move was the result of "entryism" by former UKIP members backed by Leave.EU and Nigel Farage's close ally Aaron Banks.

Before the meeting, held in Kings Langley Community Centre, Leave.EU had tweeted it wanted to "claim our first cabinet scalp".

Announcing his 2-1 victory, Mr Gauke said: "Tonight, I argued that: We should not allow the Party to be taken over by entryists.

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"We should be a broad church. No deal would be immensely damaging to the UK.

"I defeated a motion of no confidence 123 to 61. I am grateful to the members of my association for their support."

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His victory will come as a huge relief to other pro-Remain ministers and Tory MPs, who were likely to face similar no-confidence moves had the one against Mr Gauke been successful.

Already pro-Remain MPs Dominic Grieve and Phillip Lee have lost a no-confidence vote in their constituency and other prominent pro-Remain MPs could still face similar moves.

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks (right) arrives at Portcullis House in Westminster, London, with colleague Andy Wigmore. Mr Banks is due to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into fake news. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 12, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Cambridge. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image: Andy Wigmore and Arron Banks of Leave.EU, which Mr Gauke blamed for the motion

The motion being debated in South West Hertfordshire was: "No confidence in our MP, David Gauke, on account of his wilful obstruction to the implementation of the result of the 2016 referendum, and his refusal to act on the commitments made in the Conservative manifesto at the time of the last general election, and on which he was elected."

Speaking before the meeting, which lasted two and a half hours, Mr Gauke told London's Evening Standard: "For the Conservative Party to succeed it must be a broad church and have wide appeal.

"There's a risk, instead, that we become a narrow sect and out of touch with the voters we need to win a majority.

"If we are going to start deselecting those who have supported government policy and voted to leave the EU, I really fear for the future of the party.

"I will robustly defend my position and seek to fight off the Leave.EU campaign to turn the Conservative Party into the Brexit Party."

David Gauke will announce that probation services are being brought back in-house
Image: Mr Gauke said he would 'robustly' defend his position

Mr Gauke also won strong support from Cabinet colleagues, other ministers and senior MPs.

Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary and fellow Remainer, wrote on Twitter: "Tonight's motion of no confidence in @DavidGauke is ludicrous.

"Rounding on colleagues in this way is the type of behaviour you'd expect from the hard left. He has my full support, and I hope this is shared by @JeremyHunt and @BorisJohnson."

Leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, was quick to respond, said: "David Gauke is an outstanding cabinet colleague and we need him to carry on doing a great job."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has backed Boris Johnson for the Tory leadership, tweeted: "Utterly wrong that an MP as upstanding and dedicated to his country and party as @DavidGauke is facing a no confidence vote.

"His association should be proud to be represented by one of Parliament's top talents, who has voted repeatedly to deliver Brexit."

Conservative party leadership contender Jeremy Hunt speaking in Exeter during a Tory leadership hustings.
Image: Jeremy Hunt called Mr Gauke an 'outstanding cabinet colleague'

And Housing Secretary James Brokenshire added: "Whatever people's differing views, it's essential that the Conservative Party remains a 'broad church' and why moves to de-select a great colleague like @DavidGauke who has given so much are profoundly wrong."

However Andy Wigmore, of Leave EU, hit back, saying: "It's the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit that deserve your support, not some 2 referendum Remoaner.

"You were elected on a Brexit manifesto, which clearly means nothing to you."

Mr Wigmore added that it was "time to drain the swamp of career professional politicians like David Gauke and… (prisons minister) Robert Buckland".

Mr Gauke has incensed hard-line Tory Euro-sceptics with his fierce opposition to a no-deal Brexit and backed pro-Remain candidate Rory Stewart in the early stages of the Tory leadership contest.

If, as expected, Mr Johnson becomes prime minister, it is likely that Mr Gauke would refuse to serve in his Cabinet.

It is also highly likely that Mr Johnson would send him to the back benches anyway.

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