AFTER 22 years as an MP, Philip Hammond yesterday had his Parliamentary career finished. It is a spectacular fall: three months ago, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was the second most powerful Conservative politician in the land; today, he is out of a job.

Not many tears will be shed for him in the North-East. He is wealthy enough to withstand the blow, and his dry austerity policies continued the pain for local services – although, on the credit side, he was pushed into agreeing to the setting up of the Hitachi factory at Aycliffe.

But he has effectively had his career terminated because he dared to stick by what he believed: that a no-deal Brexit would harm this country economically.

He can’t really be accused of betraying Brexit because he voted three times for Theresa May’s deal, and the UK would have left by now had others – including Boris Johnson – backed joined him.

He’s gone effectively because he is too moderate for current politics – and he is not alone. With others like Nicky Morgan and Rory Stewart also leaving the Conservative Party, it is morphing before our eyes.

At the other extreme, the LibDems and the SNP look likely to pick up votes with their uncompromising messages about revoking Brexit and pushing for Scottish independence. And, although he’s wishy-washy on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn is seen as the most left-wing Labour leader for decades.

So at a time when we desperately need to come together, our politics is becoming more polarised and the moderate voices are being forced out.