Cambridgeshire MP Quits Conservatives
20 February 2019, 11:25 | Updated: 20 February 2019, 19:08
Three Tory MPs have announced they're resigning from the party, including south Cambridgeshire's Heidi Allen.
They've left to join the newly formed Independent Group, with eight other former Labour MP's.
Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston have released a joint statement, saying the government's "disastrous" handling of Brexit has been the "final straw".
The move poses a fresh headache for Mrs May as she prepared to face Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons before heading to Brussels for Brexit talks with Jean-Claude Juncker.
In a letter to Mrs May, the three MPs 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.
"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."
Former minister Ms Soubry, the MP for Broxtowe, Health Select Committee chair and Totnes MP Dr Wollaston and South Cambridgeshire MP Ms Allen said they could "no longer act as bystanders" as Mrs May continued with her Brexit strategy.
They said: "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."
They added that there was a wider dissatisfaction with the state of British politics, with both the Tories and Labour moving "to the fringes, leaving millions of people with no representation".
They said "there will be times" when they would support the Government at Westminster "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."
Mrs May said she was "saddened" by the decision but insisted that "we are doing the right thing for our country" by delivering Brexit.
She added: "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 resignations from the Tory benches come after Joan Ryan became the eighth MP to leave Labour for TIG.