If I’m a rebel, I’m one with a cause says MP Mike Hancock

REBEL Mike Hancock MP
REBEL Mike Hancock MP
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PORTSMOUTH MP Mike Hancock has been named the Liberal Democrats’ number one rebel after standing against his party on a series of issues.

The Portsmouth South Lib Dem was singled out on the BBC’s Westminster Hour on Sunday.

It comes after he refused to back his party on a number of issues since the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government was formed in 2010.

But he said: ‘I don’t think I’m a rebel. I just vote based on what I believe to be right, and what I feel my constituents need.

‘They tell me their problems and concerns, and I listen, and reflect that.’

Mr Hancock stood against university tuition fee increases when in opposition, in keeping with Lib Dem policy.

But when he voted against the coalition’s proposals to raise the fees to £9,000 last year, he found himself standing against his party, and his government.

He said: ‘I take no pride in the label rebel. I want to vote with my party and my government. On most things, I agree with them. But in some areas I can’t just follow like sheep.

‘I have to represent my beliefs, and what people in Portsmouth need.

‘I see people every week at my surgery and I must help them, rather than do what people in the party tell me to.’

Mr Hancock’s main rebellions against the party have come in social policy, over issues such as restrictions to benefits for people with disabilities and employment law changes.

He did not vote against controversial NHS changes, because he was chairman of the committee which scrutinised the bill before it was sent to Parliament.

But he confirmed he would have opposed the changes, if allowed.

He said: ‘Social policies can really hit the most vulnerable. If voting to protect them makes me a rebel, I suppose I am – but with a cause.’