COUNCILLORS in Robert Courts’ constituency have slammed the Witney MP for ‘political opportunism’ over his decision to resign as a Parliamentary Private Secretary.

Mr Courts revealed on Sunday he would quit his foreign office post in protest at Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal struck at Chequers.

The MP, who only took on the government role in January, felt the plan gave the European Union too much control over Britain’s justice system and economy.

His announcement has split opinion in West Oxfordshire, which voted to remain in the EU, with some voters praising Mr Courts and others accusing him of failing his constituents.

West Oxfordshire Labour group leader Duncan Enright, who stood against Mr Courts in the Witney by-election in 2016, accused the MP of putting personal ambitions above constituents - which Mr Courts denies.

He said: “From someone who described himself as a marginal Brexit voter many times to me and others during the by-election, and who represents a constituency that voted remain, it smacks of opportunism and career enhancement under a future Europhobe leader.”

Rosa Bolger, Labour district councillor for Witney East, said: “It’s the job of an MP to represent his constituents.

“In Witney we’ve had one who was so bothered about protecting the party he took us into this disastrous Brexit and another who was more concerned by his own promotion prospects than about his constituency or his country.”

But Witney Town Council leader and Conservative councillor Dean Temple backed Mr Courts for standing by his convictions.

He said: “It’s a difficult decision and I don’t envy him having to make it. As he and Boris Johnson said, they’ve got to stand up and support this idea but if you can’t tell yourself that it’s not fair to say it to the public.”

Mr Courts hit back at his critics and claimed keeping quiet would have been the best option if he was putting his career first.

He said: “Anyone seriously involved in politics knows that acting against your party is unpopular with whips and does not improve career prospects.

“What I have done is put the interests of my country, and my constituency, as I see them, above the interests of my own career.

“To toe the party line would have been the easy option and far more beneficial for my career.”