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Ipswich Tories at loggerheads on Brexit as Ben Gummer comes under fire from new candidate Tom Hunt

PUBLISHED: 19:30 04 January 2019

Ben Gummer was Cabinet Office minister before losing his seat in 2017. Picture: ROBERT THOM.

Ben Gummer was Cabinet Office minister before losing his seat in 2017. Picture: ROBERT THOM.

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The Conservative hoping to win Ipswich back from Labour's Sandy Martin at the next general election has moved quickly to distance himself and his party from former MP Ben Gummer's views on Brexit.

Ipswich Conservative Candidate Tom Hunt. Picture: PAUL GEATERIpswich Conservative Candidate Tom Hunt. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Mr Gummer told the BBC that he believed if Parliament was unable to agree a deal to leave the EU, there would ultimately have to be a second referendum on whether the UK should stay or leave.

However his successor Tom Hunt, who backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, distanced himself from Mr Gummer’s views.

He said: “In 2016 58% of the people in Ipswich voted to leave the EU. That decision has to be respected and it would be wrong to have a second referendum.

“I have difficulties with the deal that the Prime Minister has negotiated to leave the EU, particularly the issues over the backstop, but given it is only a temporary deal I would probably support it if I was in the House of Commons.

“But if it does not get the support of the House, and there is no other deal that can get the support of the House, then we have to be prepared to leave on March 29 without a deal.”

Mr Hunt said other members of the Ipswich Conservative Association felt the same as him – and were determined to leave the EU as Parliament had agreed on March 29.

A tweet later from Mr Hunt said Mr Gummer had been a “great MP for Ipswich” who achieved a huge amount – although it was clear that on this major issue they did not agree.

Speaking to this newspaper after his BBC interview, Mr Gummer said that whatever happened on March 29 would not be the end of the EU saga.

Mr Gummer is now working in the private sector and has made it clear he has no plans to stand again for parliament after losing the Ipswich seat by 836 in June 2017.

Gummer warned that a second referendum on Brexit could be needed

Former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer put forward his views on Brexit during an interview on BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

During the interview he said: “I think it’s probably unique in modern Parliamentary history, because MPs are being asked to walk through the division lobbies to make the country, and their constituents, permanently poorer and less secure, not just in one generation, but in two or three. And MPs have never been asked to do that before.”

When asked about what should happen if the PM’s deal was rejected, he said: “I think it’s imperative for Parliament to be responsible and come to a considered view about what the best route is.

“But, if it fails to do that, then I cannot see any other option other than to go for a second referendum.

“There needs to be a means by which the people are consulted about what the future direction of the country should be.”

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