Chief Whip Julian Smith under massive pressure to resign after Tory MP accuses him of deceiving Theresa May in vote cheating row

Tory chief whip Julian Smith is under mounting pressure to QUIT after Tory MP accuses him of LYING to Theresa May and cheating in knife-edge Brexit vote

-Tory MP says he was in a group told to defy pairing deal and vote on Tuesday

-It mean that MPs at home sick, pregnant or with newborns were disenfranchised

-Conservative MP Brandon Lewis only one who followed order – sparking fury

Theresa May’s chief whip is today under mounting pressure to quit after he was accused of lying to the Prime Minister over the Brexit vote cheating row.

A Tory MP claims that Julian Smith told him and several others to break their pact and take part in the knife-edge customs union vote on Tuesday night.

The system makes sure that if an MP on one side is unable to vote, an opponent also sits out the division to even it out.

But Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson, who is on maternity leave, complained that in Tuesday night’s knife-edge Brexit vote her pair, Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis ignored their agreement.

Lewis voted in two key divisions on Tuesday night.

And last night it was claimed Smith had told a number of paired MPs to ignore the agreement and “vote anyway” on the crunch Brexit motions.

Only Brandon Lewis followed the instruction.

It comes just weeks after the Government forced Labour MP Naz Shah to be wheeled through the voting lobby in a wheelchair with a sick bucket on her lap, in order to win another crunch Brexit vote.

Convention usually allows MPs who are on the Parliamentary estate, but are too sick or elderly to physically walk through the voting lobbies to still have their votes counted.

In practice this means even if an MP is in the Commons car park in an Ambulance, they can still vote.

But Government whips refused to accept this procedure, and insisted on even infirm MPs physically passing through the lobbies in order to have their vote counted.

Tory sources last today said Smith did ask MPs to break their pairing arrangements, but only for “short-term” pairs.

They said maternity pairs were not supposed to be broken, and Lewis was asked to do so in “error.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “We have apologised for the fact that a pregnancy pairing arrangement was broken in error this week.

“No other pairs offered on the Trade Bill on Tuesday were broken.”

But they have not confirmed whether any other MPs were ordered to vote.

Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael demanded Smith take the unusual step of coming to the despatch box to explain himself to the House of Commons.

Labour Party chair Ian Lavery said: “The Tories’ story is changing by the minute as they desperately scramble to cover up their appalling actions.

“This Government is rotten to its core.

“Julian Smith and Brandon Lewis must now resign or be sacked, and Theresa May must apologise for misleading the House.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May told MPs: “The breaking of the pair was done in error. It wasn’t good enough and will not be repeated.”

Downing Street said Mrs May still had full confidence in Mr Smith.

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