WEST Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin has had the Conservative Party whip withdrawn after voting in favour of a motion for MPs to take control of parliamentary business.

Sir Oliver opened the debate on the motion last night, in which Members of Parliament debated whether or not to take control of the Commons agenda.

In his speech, he criticised the Prime Minister's negotiation strategy with the European Union and accused him of having no viable alternative to the Northern Irish backstop plan.

In a defeat for Boris Johnson's government, the motion passed by 328 votes to 301.

MPs are now expected to debate a motion to force the Prime Minister to seek an extension on the Article 50 process in an attempt to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Sir Oliver has declined to comment to the Echo regarding the matter.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, he said: "I hope the Prime Minister will bring back a proposal for a negotiated settlement that Parliament can accept."

South Dorset MP Richard Drax, who supported Boris Johnson in this year's leadership election, said: "The behaviour of a group of my colleagues was nothing short of betrayal of the referendum vote and our country and our party and their constituents.

"I have voted against the party on numerous occasions. What I have not done is hand my party to another party and reduce the Prime Minister's ability to negotiate a deal with the EU.

"In my view, what they did last night was revocation of Article 50 in all but name.

"The one thing no one is talking about in that chamber is the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU."

In the wake of this defeat, the Prime Minister has now declared his intention to seek a general election in October.

In order to achieve this, he will need the support of two-thirds of MPs under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

A total of 21 Conservative MPs voted against the party whip on last night's motion.

Senior Tory MPs to vote against the government included two former Chancellors of the Exchequer - Philip Hammond and Kenneth Clarke - as well as former Education Secretary Justine Greening and former International Development Secretary Rory Stewart.

They have all had the whip withdrawn.

As a result, Boris Johnson no longer has a majority in the House of Commons.