The Eastbourne MP resigned the Liberal Democrat parliamentary whip yesterday (December 6) – but what does this mean for the town and his future as MP?
Stephen Lloyd announced he would be quitting the parliamentary party due to disagreement over Brexit.
This means in Parliament he is officially an independent MP – and can vote for Theresa May’s Brexit Deal on Tuesday (December 11) without coming under pressure to back the Lib Dems’ position to call for another referendum.
The Liberal Democrats have lost their work and pensions spokesperson and now have only 11 MPs in Parliament.
What is a ‘parliamentary whip’?
A whip is rules which every MP belonging to a party must abide by.
As a Liberal Democrat MP, Stephen Lloyd had to follow internal party rules and vote with the party line.
A ‘three-line whip’ normally applies to major events and defying one is very serious and can result in the whip being withdrawn – meaning the MP would be effectively expelled from the party and must sit as an independent.
Brexit is a major issue for all parties – and the official Lib Dem policy is to campaign to Remain and call for a People’s Vote against the final deal.
As Mr Lloyd publicly stated he would not vote with his party against the Brexit deal – but vote for it – there were calls by a number of Lib Dems for him to lose the whip over this.
The MP also received increasing pressure from the likes of Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis and a poster van seen around Eastbourne calling on him to reject the deal.
But instead Mr Lloyd said he decided to keep his promise to the people of Eastbourne – 57 per cent of whom voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum – and vote for the deal.
Still a Lib Dem?
However, in a Facebook Live video uploaded onto the MP’s page yesterday evening, Mr Lloyd said he would be an independent MP in Parliament, but a Lib Dem in Eastbourne.
He says he remains a Lib Dem member and his values remain liberal.
The local party has been contacted for comment.
There are rumours Mr Lloyd’s decision could trigger a by-election in Eastbourne, as some argue they voted for the Liberal Democrat party and not just Mr Lloyd.
It is not known at this time if this could happen, but we will be looking into it and will be interviewing Mr Lloyd later today.
Learn more about Parliamentary whips at www.parliament.uk