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South West MEP thrown out of Tories

Expelled Julie Girling says PM is a "bully"

A rebel south west Conservative MEP has been expelled from the party after defying Theresa May's Brexit strategy.

Julie Girling, who represents the south west and Gibraltar in Brussels, has been at odds with her former party's leadership for a year after voting for a European Parliament resolution that said sufficient progress hadn't been made in negotiations. As punishment at the time, the Tory whip was withdrawn. Now she's been thrown out altogether.

Ms Girling says the action, taken last week on the eve of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, is "extreme and disproportionate" and "illustrates an increasing level of intolerance within the Party particularly on the issue of Brexit. 

"It is no secret that I disagree with the PM on her strategy, as do many others, but I am being treated very differently from others in the party, especially those with a much higher public profile. These are the tactics of a bully but I refuse to play the role of victim."

She's now throwing her weight behind the campaign for a "People's Vote" on the government's negotiations with the EU, which also calls for an option to remain.

In the 2016 Ms Girling was a remainer, a decision which at the time she said she had reached reluctantly. She has been a Conservative party member for 40 years and an MEP since 2009. She has previously been chief whip of the Tories in the European Parliament. She says she was informed of her expulsion in a letter from the Tory chairman last week.

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