Stephen Phillips, a eurosceptic Conservative MP has announced that he is resigning because of his anger at the Prime Minister’s attempts to sideline parliament on the issue of Brexit negotiations. Phillips cited “growing and significant policy differences with the government” as his reason for resigning, which will trigger a by-election in his constituency of Sleaford & North Hykeham where he won his seat with a 24,000 majority over Labour at last year’s general election. The MP recently told the Guardian newspaper that the government’s current negotiation of Brexit is “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional and cuts across the rights and privileges of the legislature”.
This week, the High Court ruled that parliament must be given the opportunity to vote on whether the UK can begin the formal process of leaving the European Union. However, Theresa May immediately announced that the government will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.
Phillips’ surprise departure follows after Zac Goldsmith’s decision to resign over the decision on Heathrow expansion last week. These resignations increase the pressure on May’s government, which has a working majority of just 17 MPs. This will make the process of passing legislation on Brexit through parliament more difficult. Despite this, the Prime Minister’s position that there will be no general election before 2020 remains unchanged.