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Three Conservative MPs Resign To Join Independent Group
20 February 2019, 10:02 | Updated: 20 February 2019, 11:38
Three Conservative MPs have announced they have resigned from the party to join the new Independent Group.
Last night, Joan Ryan became the eighth MP to leave the Labour party, in protest over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.
Three Tories - Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen - have confirmed they are joining them, having become frustrated by Theresa May's approach to Brexit.
Writing to the Prime Minister, they said: "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."
They added: "Following the EU referendum of 2016, no genuine effort was made to build a cross party, let alone a national consensus to deliver Brexit. Instead of seeking to heal the divisions or to tackle the underlying causes of Brexit, the priority was to draw up 'red lines'. 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.
"We intend to sit as independents alongside the Independent Group of MPs in the centre ground of British politics.
"There will be times when we will support the Government, for example, on measures to strengthen our economy, security and improve our public services. But we now feel honour bound to put our constituents' and country's interests first.
"We will continue to work constructively, locally and nationally, on behalf of our constituents."
That takes the Independent Group to 11 MPs, alongside the Liberal Democrats.
It also reduces the Prime Minister's majority - with the help of the DUP - to just eight.
In a message to her constituents, Dr Wollaston said: "This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I no longer feel that the Conservatives are the same Party thatI joined a decade ago.
"I can no longer continue as a member of a Party which, in government, is making poor decisions that will hit the communities I represent and set back the prospects for ending austerity."
Prime Minister Theresa May responded: "I am saddened by this decision – these are people who have given dedicated service to our party over many years, and I thank them for it.
"Of course, the UK’s membership of the EU has been a source of disagreement both in our party and our country for a long time. Ending that membership after four decades was never going to be easy.
"But by delivering on our manifesto commitment and implementing the decision of the British people we are doing the right thing for our country. And in doing so, we can move forward together towards a brighter future.
"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."