Former Tory and Change UK MP Heidi Allen joins Lib Dems

Heidi Allen MP. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

Heidi Allen MP. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Heidi Allen has become the latest MP to join a resurgent Lib Dem party.

Allen, who was most recently an independent MP but had led the Change UK party after leaving the Tories, holds the traditionally safe Conservative seat with a majority of almost 16,000 votes.

But figures put the local area as backing Remain by up to 70% of the vote in the EU referendum.

She recently made headlines for launching the 'Unite to Remain' scheme which would have seen pro-Remain candidates run in different seats around the country to maximise the anti-Brexit vote in a general election.

The MP told the Independent she waited to join the Liberal Democrats until she had ensured sufficient work had been done on the initiative.

She told the newspaper there are at least 20 Tory MPs who are dissatisfied with the direction of the party who could join the Lib Dems too.

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"I'm not saying everybody should casually resign the whip, but for me it was the right thing and I know that in other MPs' hearts they know it's the right thing to do. There has got to be at least 20."

She added: "I couldn't say for sure that any will. I'd like to say yes, but one of the things that's disappointed me most since I became an MP is the lack of bravery that there is".

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Her move takes the Lib Dem tally in the Commons to 19, following the recent arrivals of ex-Tories Sarah Wollaston, Sam Gyimah and Phillip Lee as well as former Labour MPs Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith and Luciana Berger.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme her constituents in South Cambridgeshire have been "unbelievably supportive".

She said: "I have received thousands of emails, they've stopped me in the street, I have surgeries and all over the constituency.

"And almost exclusively people tell me that they're happy I've put the national interests first. So of course, when that general election comes, which I think is going to be very soon, they will have the chance to test that.

"And if I'm wrong, then absolutely they will vote for Conservatives as they always have done in South Cambridgeshire, which is typically a safe seat. But that's not the reaction I'm getting from my constituents."

Speaking about the Conservative Party, she said: "The party has changed irreversibly."

She added: "The party is absolutely not what it was nor has it kept the promises that it made. It's changed. It's become Brexit Party version two. And that is certainly not what my constituents voted for."

It follows the news former Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell had joined the party over the weekend.

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