Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood has had the whip removed after “failing to support” Boris Johnson’s government in a confidence vote last night.
It comes after the prime minister won the vote with a majority of 111 after announcing a fortnight ago he will resign from No 10 upon a new Tory leader being elected by the party’s membership in September.
But a spokesperson for the Tory whips’ office said: “Tobias Ellwood MP has lost the Conservative Party whip following his failure to vote in support of the government in the confidence vote last night.”
Mr Ellwood, a frequent critic of Mr Johnson who had called for him to resign, posted on social media on Monday that he was in Moldova meeting the country’s president Maia Sandu.
The senior Tory MP, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, said: “Odessa’s just 100 miles away. After Donbas — Russia’s expected to head West and if Odessa falls Moldova could easily be next.
“Nato must learn from Ukraine and not leave it too late this time,” he added.
But it is understood Mr Ellwood was reminded that the confidence vote was taking place on Monday evening in the Commons and informed of the repercussions if he failed to attend.
The decision by Mr Johnson and the whips office means that Mr Ellwood, who has supported Penny Mordaunt, will not be able to vote in the fourth ballot of the Tory leadership contest this evening.
Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, responded: “It is telling that Boris Johnson acted swiftly to punish Tobias Ellwood this time, but dragged his feet for days when it came to suspending the whip from his loyal supporter Chris Pincher.
“This petty act shows there is no room in the Conservatives any more for those who refuse to prop up Johnson.
“The Conservative leadership candidates should condemn this move and make clear they will restore the whip to Tobias Ellwood.”