Oliver Letwin: The Eton-educated ally of David Cameron who is behind plot to block Boris Johnson’s deal and delay Brexit AGAIN
- Sir Oliver Letwin tabled amendment designed to bolster anti-No Deal protection
- If passed it would force Boris Johnson to ask EU for Brexit delay past October 31
- It would also rob the PM of the chance to hold a ‘meaningful vote’ on his deal
- Sir Oliver has become one of the leading figures in the fight against No Deal
- Unlikely Tory rebel worked for Margaret Thatcher and backed Theresa May’s deal
Sir Oliver Letwin has been a repeated thorn in the side of the government over Brexit.
His amendment, which MPs are expected to vote on this afternoon, would force Boris Johnson to ask the EU to delay the UK’s departure beyond October 31.
It would also rob the Prime Minister of the chance to test the will of the House of Commons to see if a majority of MPs support his Brexit deal.
Sir Oliver has insisted that the move is just about bolstering protections against a No Deal split from the EU.
It would require the government to pass all the legislation needed to enact Brexit before MPs finally sign off on the terms of the agreement.
But his critics believe it is nothing less than a wrecking amendment designed to stop the UK leaving the EU.
This is not the first time that the former high-ranking Cabinet minister has been involved in efforts which have frustrated the government’s Brexit proposals.
Sir Oliver Letwin, pictured in Whitehall in March this year, has become a leading figure in efforts to block a No Deal Brexit
Boris Johnson, pictured leaving Downing Street today, wanted to have the option of a chaotic split from the EU. But Sir Oliver helped MPs take control of the Commons earlier this year to pass the Benn Act which makes a No Deal much more difficult
He has been one of the leading Brexit rebels among Remain-backing MPs as they have tried and succeeded in their efforts to rule out a No Deal Brexit.
His name was at the top of a motion passed at the start of September which enabled MPs to take control of the Commons and subsequently pass the Benn Act – the anti-No Deal law that will force the PM to ask the EU for a delay if no agreement has been backed by close of play this evening.
Sir Oliver was loyal to Theresa May’s original Brexit deal as he backed it on all three occasions when it was put to a vote.
But the prospect of a No Deal Brexit prompted him to play a central role in bringing forward the indicative votes process earlier this year when MPs tried and failed to agree a Brexit option that a majority in the Commons could back.
His rebellion over opposition to No Deal came to a head last month when he was one of 21 MPs stripped of the Tory whip after supporting the bid to block a disorderly split from the EU.
He is in many respects an unlikely rebel.
Educated at Eton and then Cambridge, the 63-year-old first entered politics as a member of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit in Number 10 in the 1980s.
He was then first elected as the Tory MP for West Dorset in 1997 before making a rapid rise up the Conservative ranks, joining the opposition frontbench and eventually becoming shadow chancellor in 2003.
He became a key figure in David Cameron’s administration, acting as the PM’s ‘fixer’, after he helped to draw up the Tories’ 2010 election manifesto.
After being a constant in Mr Cameron’s governments, Sir Oliver was then ousted from the frontbench by Theresa May when she became PM in 2016.
He is regarded as a ‘big brain’ in Whitehall circles and is viewed as a man who has a gift for creative thinking and problem solving.
Sir Oliver was first elected as the Tory MP for West Dorset in 1997 having previously worked in Margaret Thatcher’s Number 10 policy unit. The former PM is pictured alongside Sir Oliver on the campaign trail
Sir Oliver, pictured at the far end of the Cabinet table on the left hand side, was a key figure in David Cameron’s administration, acting as the PM’s ‘fixer’
But he has over the years developed a reputation as a hapless politician who has been prone to gaffes and finding himself in embarrassing situations.
He once unwittingly welcomed two burglars into his London home after they said they wanted to use the bathroom.
He was also once spotted discarding parliamentary papers into a bin in St James’s Park.
Before the 2001 general election he and his local challengers dressed up in togas for a debate, prompting ridicule.
In 2015 he apologised after it emerged he had blamed ‘bad moral attitudes’ in black inner-city communities for riots in the 1980s in a paper he had helped write.
Outside of politics, Sir Oliver is married and has two children. He is expected to stand down as an MP at the next election.