WINCHESTER MP Steve Brine would consider standing as an independent at a General Election, the Daily Echo has learned.

The MP, who had the whip withdrawn for voting against the Government over a no deal Brexit last week, was said to be considering his options.

That includes standing against the official Conservative candidate if, as if widely expected, a General Election is held soon.

Mr Brine tweeted on Saturday: "A special afternoon at the Littleton + Harestock Show handing out the prizes and catching up with the excellent local councillors, Caroline, Stephen and Patrick. Thk u for the overwhelming (positive) response to events this week. All (and I mean all) options remain on the table!"

Mr Brine, the MP since 2010, has received some 2,000 emails with the majority said to be supportive, and many urging him to stand as an independent.

A local friend, who asked not to be named, said: "Steve has shown that the idea any of the 21 'rebel' MPs are self-serving is just not true. But he has had quite a big shock (losing the whip). It has been very, very difficult for him The party is like a family and he has worked for it for more than 20 years.

"Quite a lot of people are telling him to stand as an independent, from all parties, but he is asking himself 'do you want to do this anymore?' He is taking soundings now that Parliament has been prorogued. He is considering all options."

The friend added: "He wants to keep the party in the centre ground. He didn't win the seat at three election by being right-wing but being a one nation Conservative. That is where Winchester is."

In a statement Mr Brine MP said: “The response from constituents when I resigned as a Minister in the spring was huge but the response in the past week, including last weekend as I continued my work as a constituency MP, has been completely overwhelming.

“Whether people voted leave or remain, whether they are supporters of mine or not, they have been really keen to recognise in these cynical times an MP who put himself on the line.

“I’ve received thousands of messages and had countless conversations face to face, pretty much all supportive of the move to speak out against a no-deal Brexit and urging me to stay as Winchester’s MP. I need to take further soundings, which the unnecessarily long prorogation now allows, and talk to my family, so I will do that and at this stage all options absolutely remain on the table.”

Mr Brine was chosen as the official candidate in March but Jonathan Legat, chairman of the Winchester Conservative Association, in an email to party members last week, said: "It is with regret that I acknowledge Steve Brine MP has lost the Conservative Party whip. He is therefore no longer a Conservative MP and is ineligible to stand as a Conservative parliamentary candidate. I would like to thank Steve for all his hard work representing Winchester over the last nine years. He has been a hard working and dedicated MP and I wish him the very best for the future.

"Together with the officers of the association, I am monitoring events as they unfold and making preparations for selecting a new Conservative parliamentary candidate. These will involve holding an Extraordinary Executive Council meeting followed by a Special General Meeting for all eligible members, to elect by ballot our candidate, the dates of which will be announced in due course."