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Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah joins Lib Dems

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Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah joins Lib Dems
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Former Conservative minister Sam Gyimah has joined the Liberal Democrats after voting along with 20 other Conservatives against the government in early September.

Gyimah had the Tory whip withdrawn after voting in favour of a bill designed to stop a no-deal Brexit.

On Saturday, he announced that he was joining the Liberal Democrats and during their party conference, he joined leader Jo Swinson on stage to talk about his reasons for defecting.

"If Jo had promised me this reception earlier, I would have joined a lot lot earlier than I have today," Gyimah joked as the audience at the rally cheered.

The former universities, science research, and innovation minister made headlines in 2018 when he resigned his position over Theresa May's Brexit deal. He had objected to the UK pulling out of the EU's Galileo programme to develop a global navigation satellite system.

"Little did I know how much at odds that was going to put me with my party," he said on Saturday evening of resigning from his post.

Gyimah was also a candidate for the Tory leadership contest though he said he ran knowing that he was not likely to win the contest and mostly wanted to represent an alternative view on Brexit.

He also said that his disagreements with the Conservatives went beyond Brexit and said the government was playing "fast and loose" with people's livelihoods.

Gyimah added that he believed centrists were being "squeezed out" of the Labour party as well and talked about creating a "new force" in British politics with the Liberal Democrats.

He referenced Johnson's decision to have the whip withdrawn from MPs who voted against the government and said it made them have to choose between "our careers" and "putting the country first."

"We can’t give the two old parties permission to silence and push moderates out of politics, when millions hold these values," Gyimah tweeted later in the evening.

Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee also defected to the Lib Dems in early September during Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first Prime Minister's Questions.

Gyimah is the MP from East Surrey. He was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Ghana.

He won East Surrey in 2017 with a majority of 23,914 and almost 60% of the vote. Labour came in second with 19% and the Liberal Democrats with just 10%. It is therefore a Conservative safe seat and would be a major coup for the Liberal Democrats.

But despite the huge majority - East Surrey has had a Conservative MP for 100 years - 54.2% of voters in the constituency voted to leave in the 2016 referendum. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has put a candidate, Yasmin Fitzpatrick, forward for the seat.