Sam Gyimah becomes sixth MP to defect to Liberal Democrats this year

Former Conservative minister and leadership contender Sam Gyimah has become the sixth MP to defect to the Liberal Democrats this year.

Mr Gyimah, who represents East Surrey, sat as an Independent after losing the Tory whip when he backed a move by opposition parties to prevent a no-deal Brexit earlier this month.

He has been a prominent advocate of a second referendum and was briefly in the race to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader in June.

Announcing his decision to join the Lib Dems on the first day of their annual conference in Bournemouth, the former education minister said centrists were being "cast out of both main parties".

He told the Observer: "I listen to ministers undermining the courts ... Ministers questioning experts because their views are inconvenient for what the Government is saying about no-deal.

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Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, who has defected to the Liberal Democrats, with leader Jo Swinson during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, who has defected to the Liberal Democrats, with leader Jo Swinson during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah talks on stage after joining the Liberal Democrats party at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah talks on stage after joining the Liberal Democrats party at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah talks on stage after joining the Liberal Democrats party at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah joins the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson on stage at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, who has defected to the Liberal Democrats, with leader Jo Swinson during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, who has defected to the Liberal Democrats, with leader Jo Swinson during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt speaking during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chuka Umunna during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson with European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tim Farron speaking during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jane Dodds speaking during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lib Dem MEP's on stage during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Chairman of the European Parliament's fisheries committee, Chris Davies MEP, wears a fish costume to gain support for his 'Fish for the Future' campaign at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Menzies Campbell is seen at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: President of the Liberal Democrats Baroness Sal Brinton speaks at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Menzies "Ming" Campbell speaks to a lady outside the conference centre at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jo Swinson makes an entry in the guest book of the Government of Gibraltar's exhibition stand at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tours the trade stands in the exhibition hall at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change speaks at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson with Councillor Vikki Slade in Bournemouth town centre during the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson with Lush shop manager Charlotte Mills, left and Councillor Vikki Slade during her visit to the shop in Bournemouth town centre during the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson arrives at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Bournemouth International Centre on September 14, 2019 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson during a visit to a local Lush store, as the Liberal Democrats autumn conference gets underway at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson (centre) is greeted by party members as she arrives for the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
A general view of the opening session during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
People start to arrive for the opening session of the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man hands out Remain stickers at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
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"You have a government that says law enforcement is the centrepiece of its platform and yet says in another breath that it will pick and choose what laws it chooses to respect.

"This is in many ways undermining key pillars of our constitution and the functioning of our democracy. The issue for me is not just Brexit. It is beyond Brexit – how you conduct politics and the veering towards populism and English nationalism."

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