( Breaking News) Boris Johnson saw his Commons majority wiped out today as a former minister dramatically crossed the floor of the Commons to join the Lib Dems.
Phillip Lee walked away from his colleagues in the chamber and went to sit with Jo Swinson’s pro-EU group.
The incendiary step came as the Tories descended into civil war ahead of the huge showdown over No Deal Brexit tonight.
In a statement, Dr Lee said the ‘party I joined in 1992 is not the party I am leaving today’.
‘This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,’ he said.
However, Mr Johnson was defiant as he addressed MPs immediately after the extraordinary scenes this afternoon.
Attacking Remainer plans to seize control of the Commons and pass legislation ruling out No Deal, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender bill.’
In a stinging barb about the concessions to Brussels he added: ‘They would be able to keep us in the EU for as long as they like and on their terms.’
Mr Johnson stressed that there will be ‘no further pointless delay’ to Brexit.
‘Enough is enough. The country wants this done and they want the referendum respected,’ he said. ‘We are negotiating a deal and though I am confident of getting a deal, we will leave by October 31 in all circumstances.’
Prior to the defection the PM had an effective majority of just one. Dr Lee switching sides makes it a minority government – although the premier can also rely on the support of Charlie Elphicke, who is currently suspended from the Tory whip.
Earlier, the PM met senior Remainers including Philip Hammond and David Gauke ahead of the crucial vote, which could define the future of the country for decades.
But the discussion quickly descended into acrimony, with government sources accusing Mr Hammond of behaving ‘disrespectfully’ and ‘chuntering’.
The premier accused the former chancellor during the encounter of ‘handing power to a Junta including Jeremy Corbyn’ by backing the anti-No Deal legislation.