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Three Tory MPs resign to join Independent Group

By Frank Prenesti

Date: Wednesday 20 Feb 2019

Three Tory MPs resign to join Independent Group

(Sharecast News) - The febrile and fractured nature of British politics was laid bare on Wednesday as three Conservative MPs resigned from the party in protest at its lurch to the right and joined ranks with the Independent Group of eight Labour defectors in parliament.
The pro-EU Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston told Prime Minister Theresa May said the Tories had been taken over by anti-EU hardliners and that she had failed to live up to pledges to tackle injustices in society.

On Monday seven Labour MPs quit in protest over Jeremy Corbyn's support of Brexit and failure to tackle antisemitism within the party. They were joined a day later by Joan Ryan, who was scathing about the rise of racism among party members.

In their joint resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, the three trio of Conservatives wrote of their concerns about the party's political direction.

"This shift to the right has been exacerbated by blatant entryism. Not only has this been tolerated, it has been actively welcomed in some quarters. A purple momentum is subsuming the Conservative party, as much as the hard left has been allowed to consume and terminally undermine the Labour party," they 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 European Research Group and Democratic Unionist Party."

"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 hard line ERG which operates openly as a party within a party, with its own leader, whip and policy."

The outspoken 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.

Soubry has been the victim of intimidation by far right pro-Brexit protesters both online and physically outside the parliament buildings in Westminster.

Wollasaton said she believed a co-ordinated, paid for campaign on social media was working against Conservative MPs opposed to Brexit in an effort to have them deselected by their local party associations.

"It's very clear to me that our associations are changing. We have people who are very clearly Ukip and they are turning the Conservative party to Blukip," she said.

"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 group added.

"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."

In response, May said she was "saddened" by the decision.

"I am determined that under my leadership the Conservative Party will always offer the decent, moderate and patriotic politics that the people of this country deserve."

The defections erode May's already slim parliamentary majority, currently propped up by 10 DUP votes. She will now also be beholden to the ERG, a self-styled group of hard right anti-European ultras that produces little "research" and demands Brexit at any price.

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