Three Conservative MPs have resigned from the party to join a new breakaway group, saying that Theresa May’s Brexit plans mean they can no longer remain members.
Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, and Anna Soubry all announced their decision on Wednesday morning.
Three Conservative MPs have quit the party to join the Independent Group founded by former Labour MPs.
In what will be seen as a rebuke to Theresa May, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen said the Tories had lurched to the right, adopting Ukip policies and pursuing a hard Brexit.
The Independent Group was formed on Monday by seven former Labour MPs, including Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Chris Leslie. Joan Ryanbecame the eighth MP to quit Labour and join the group on Tuesday night. They said they felt it necessary to leave Labour because of the leadership’s Brexit policy and failure to tackle antisemitism in the party.
In a letter to the prime minister, the three MPs wrote: “We no longer feel we can remain in the party of a government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the ERG and DUP.
“Brexit has re-defined the Conservative party – undoing all the efforts to modernise it. There has been a dismal failure to stand up to the hardline ERG, which operates openly as a party within a party, with its own leader, whip and policy.”
Wollaston, Soubry and Allen said government’s handling of Brexit had been “disastrous” and said no genuine effort had been made to build consensus.
“Instead of seeking to heal the divisions or to tackle the underlying causes of Brexit, the priority was to draw up ‘red lines’,” they said. “The 48% were not only sidelined, they were alienated.
“The country deserves better. We believe there is a failure of politics in general, not just in the Conservative party but in both main parties as they move to the fringes, leaving millions of people with no representation. Our politics needs urgent and radical reform and we are determined to play our part.”
The group said they intended to sit as independents, like the eight MPs who have also quit the Labour. “There will be times when we will support the government, for example, on measures to strengthen our economy, security and improve our public services,” the three MPs said. “We will continue to work constructively, locally and nationally, on behalf of our constituents.”
Soubry is a former government minister who sat in David Cameron’s cabinet, while Wollaston is chair of the Commons health and social care committee.
Allen, who was elected in 2015, recently embarked on an “anti-poverty tour” around Britain with the former Labour MP Frank Field.
Their departure from the Conservatives leaves May with an even slimmer Commons majority as the prime minister attempts to win support for her Brexit deal in the coming weeks.