Northampton’s newest MP has admitted he would be willing to vote against his principles to keep Labour from scuppering Conservative Brexit plans.
In his first interview with the Chronicle & Echo since taking office Andrew Lewer, the Cambridge history graduate who narrowly took the Northampton South seat in the General Election, says he does not intend to be a backbench rebel like some of his predecessors.
The former MEP campaigned to leave the EU and says he would be willing to put any personal feelings aside with certain parts of the bill to allow Theresa May’s Brexit vision to sail through Parliament unhindered.
“I don’t think I will be quite as rebellious on all fronts like Charles Bradlaugh,” he said, before adding that toeing the party line would stop “dangerous individuals’” Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell from scuppering Brexit.
When asked whether he would vote for a law he personally objected to, he said:“I would for the greater good.
“Occasionally we have to make a decision over something really big.”
The Northampton South seat has a history of rebellious members, not least Mr Bradlaugh, whose 11-year spell in Parliament saw him imprisoned for his atheist views.
In recent years Tony Clarke and Brian Binley have defied the party whip on major issues.
Mr Lewer, who published local history books and has a five-year-old son, is likely to be less rebellious – adding that Brexit would have to entail leaving the common market.
“You cannot leave the EU and be part of the single market,” he said. “That entails accepting complete freedom of movement. The people in Northampton have been very clear of their view on that.”
Adding to that, Mr Lewer said he was comfortable with the newly-formed alliance between the Conservatives and the DUP, despite the Northern Ireland party’s stance on abortion and gay marriage.
"This will be a one-party Government with arrangements for voting majorities,” he said.
“I think the DUP do get a hard time from people.
“It always seems to be parties to the right of centre that get this sort of reaction. There is no moral equivalent between the DUP and Sinn Fein.”
The new Northampton South MP has confirmed he will establish a ‘base’ in the town –but is yet to decide whether he will actually live here.
During his campaign, candidates attacked him for being ‘parachuted’ into Northampton at short notice with little knowledge of the town. But he claimed his position as an ‘outsider’ could be to his advantage.
“Compared with the other candidates, I was the only person to have held electoral office,” he added.
“People could see there was a trade-off between voting super-local and bringing in a huge amount of experience.
“I think people were open to the idea of bringing someone in from the outside.”