Antoinette Sandbach

Death threats and 'disgrace' in 2019 as MP joins Lib Dems

Allen Cook

BBC News

Former Tory MP Antoinette Sandbach, who's announced she's joined the Liberal Democrats, has had a turbulent 2019, having reported being called a "disgrace" by a colleague and receiving death threats over her position on Brexit.

Antoinette Sandbach in 2015

Having been a Welsh assembly member, she first took the safe Conservative Cheshire seat of Eddisbury in 2015 with a majority of nearly 13,000 and was re-elected with a near similar margin in 2017.

Within months of her first election, she broke down in tears in the House of Commons as she told MPs about losing her five-day-old son to sudden infant death syndrome.

Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach speaks during a rally in Parliament Square
Getty Images

A Remain-voter, Ms Sandbach reported death threats over her Brexit position in April and then last month, after losing a vote of confidence among her local party members.

While in June, in a now-deleted tweet, she shared a screenshot of messages saying she was a "disgrace" and telling her to quit the party, which she said were sent to her by a male Tory MP.

Ms Sandbach lost the Tory whip in October after voting against the government in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Despite backing Remain in the referendum, since then she has consistently voted in favour of deals to leave the EU, backing Theresa May's deal three times - which would have seen the UK leave in March - and more recently backing Boris Johnson's own deal with the EU.

Rebel MP targets local issues

Antoinette Sandbach, the MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire, is hoping her record on local issues will be important to voters at this next election.

She was one of 21 Conservative MPs suspended from the parliamentary Conservative Party and now intends to stand as an independent candidate.

Unlike 10 of her colleagues, including Stourbridge MP Margot James, the whip wasn't restored today.

She told BBC Breakfast this morning: "I think what we're going to see is really local factors, people looking at their MP and looking at their values and seeing how they've represented them, how they've spoken up on their behalf."

Antoinette Sandbach

"I think my constituents will see that I've always stood up and spoken up for what I believe to be in their best interests."

She has consistently sought to stop a no-deal Brexit, but has also voted three times for Theresa May's deal, which would have seen the UK leave the EU in March, and also for Boris Johnson's own deal.

The MP, who received a death threat earlier this month, is worried about the response from the public to politicians and said female MPs particularly may have to avoid canvassing on their own.

"You never know what's been on the other side of the door," she said.

No Tory return for Brexit rebel Antoinette Sandbach

BBC Breakfast

An MP who rebelled against Boris Johnson over Brexit says she doesn't expect to have the whip restored before the planned general election in December.

Antoinette Sandbach
UK Parliament

Eddisbury MP Antoinette Sandbach was expelled from the parliamentary Conservative Party along with 20 other Tory MPs after backing efforts to pass legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.

However, she backed Theresa May's Brexit deal with the EU in all three votes on the issue and voted for Boris Johnson's own deal earlier this month.

Yesterday, just before the vote on the prime minister's plan to hold an early general election, Boris Johnson restored the whip to 10 of the former rebels.

They didn't include Ms Sandbach and she's now planning to stand as an independent.

I will be standing in Eddisbury, I think it's very unlikely that I will have the whip returned but I have made a commitment to the local people in Eddisbury, I was elected to represent them but I do believe there should be a proper contest in Eddisbury."

Antoinette SandbachEddisbury MP

Rebel MP: 'You have to do what is right'

Sophie Calvert

Political Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Cheshire MP Antoinette Sandbach said rebelling against Boris Johnson was hard but "there are critical times when you have to do what is right".

The Eddisbury MP was one of 21 Tory MPs who voted against the government last nightin a move designed to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

It means another vote today that could force the prime minister to seek a delay to Brexit and the latest 31 October deadline.

MP Antoinette Sandbach

Following the result, Ms Sandbach tweeted that the whip had been taken away from her, effectively expelling her from the parliamentary party.

She added she had rebelled "no matter what the personal consequences" and "most of my constituents would have supported a "soft" Brexit however they voted not a no deal".

Brexit: Tory MPs split over 'expulsion warning'

Allen Cook

BBC News

The Conservative Party's being accused by one of its own MPs of trying to "purge" the group of dissenting "moderate" voices who oppose the prime minister's stance over Brexit.

A senior source from the whips office - which ensures MPs vote on party lines - said those who voted to block no deal would be expelled and deselected.

Antoinette Sandbach
UK Parliament

Eddisbury's Conservative MP, Antoinette Sandbach (above), told the BBC she saw it as "a very deliberate attempt to try and purge the Conservative Party of moderate, sensible voices".

Daniel Kawczynski
UK Parliament

But fellow Tory MP, Shrewsbury and Atcham's Daniel Kawczynski (above), said he felt the whips were right to warn MPs.

"For any Conservative MP to be undermining his position in this way and potentially joining some form of coalition with Jeremy Corbyn is of course a breach of normal party discipline and cannot be tolerated," he said.

Mr Kawczynski went further and called for a general election to solve the current impasse.

This Parliament has spectacularly failed in its responsibility and duty. It needs to be dissolved, there needs to be a general election and we need to ask the British people for a mandate for a workable majority to carry on."

Daniel KawczynskiMP for Shrewsbury and Atcham

MPs rebel to block Parliament shutdown

Seventeen Conservatives rebelled against the whip, in this afternoon's vote over measures to block Parliament shutdown, including minister Margot James.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy and Antoinette Sanbach, MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire were also among the rebels.

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Among those Conservative MPs who did not vote were Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart.