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‘Homophobic’ Lib Dem defector Phillip Lee, who wanted to segregate trans prisoners, fails to win seat

Emma Powys Maurice December 13, 2019
Phillip Lee

Phillip Lee caused cross-party chaos by defecting to the Lib Dems in September (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/ Getty)

The former Tory MP Phillip Lee, whose dramatic defection to the Lib Dems in September caused several LGBT+ members of the party to quit, has failed to win a seat in the general election.

Lee previously abstained on a vote on equal marriage and tried to introduce an amendment to a bill which would ban HIV-positive immigrants from entering the country.

And earlier this month he said trans prisoners should be segregated in separate facilities during a webchat with Mumsnet users.

In the general election Lee was campaigning for the Lib Dems in the constituency of Wokingham, but failed to win the seat from the incumbent Conservative MP Sir John Redwood, who has held it since 1987.

Lee received 23,351 votes, a 37.5 percent share compared to Redwood’s 56.6 percent share with 33,806 votes.

In the past Phillip Lee has voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act; he has also voted against assisted dying, against a right to remain for EU nationals and against measures to prevent climate change.

His downfall will likely come as a relief to many LGBT+ Lib Dems members after his questionable views on LGBT+ rights threw the party into chaos when he was admitted by Jo Swinson.

“Phillip brings almost 10 years of parliamentary experience and decades of professional expertise,” Swinson said. “He shares our commitment to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit, and to stop Brexit altogether.”

But this wasn’t enough to justify his beliefs, and several party members stepped down in protest, including the chair of the Lib Dem LGBT+ group Jennie Rigg.

She explained her reasons for leaving in a scathing blog post that described Lee as “a homophobe, a xenophobe, and someone who thinks people should be barred from the country if they are ill.”

She continued: “I thought the Lib Dems were not a single issue party. I thought we had a soul and principles. But apparently as long as you are on the right side on Brexit, we’ll take you.”

In an interview with The Times, Lee insisted he wasn’t a homophobe and defended his decision to abstain on a vote on marriage equality. He argued it was a “liberal” choice and part of a “nuanced argument.”

Jo Swinson, who welcomed Lee into the party with open arms, has quit as leader of the Lib Dems after she also failed to win her seat.

More: conservatives, general election, Jo swinson, Liberal Democrats, Mumsnet, phillip lee, Wokingham

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