The governing Conservative Party lost its majority today as one of its MPs defected to join the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.
Phillip Lee sat on the opposition benches today as Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood to deliver a statement in the House of Commons.
The move increases pressure on Johnson, whose majority was already looking shaky, but does not automatically trigger an election because that would require a separate vote.
In a statement, the MP for Bracknell accused the Tories of deliberately using “political manipulation, bullying and lies” to push through its plans on Brexit.
“This Conservative government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,” Lee said. “It is putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessarily and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the United Kingdom.”
He added: “I believe the Liberal Democrats are best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society — and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations.”
Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson said she is “delighted” the former Tory has joined her party.
“He brings almost 10 years of parliamentary experience and decades of professional expertise,” she said. “He shares our commitment to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit, and to stop Brexit altogether.”
Lee is the third MP to join the party in recent months, after Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston defected from the Independent Group for Change.
They were previously Labour and Tory MPs respectively.
The defection announcement from Lee came as Jane Dodds was sworn in as a Lib Dem MP after she won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election last month.
The Lib Dems now have 15 MPs.
WATCH: Tory MP Defects