Three Tory MPs join the breakaway Independent Group

Anna Soubry is a People's Vote campaign supporter. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Anna Soubry is a People's Vote campaign supporter. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Three Tory MPs have quit the party and joined the breakaway Independent Group, citing Theresa May's failure to stand up to hardline Brexiteers.

Writing to the prime minister, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston 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 [European Research Group] 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.'

The Tory trio said: 'The final straw for us has been this government's disastrous handling of Brexit.

'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.'

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They 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.'

On joining The Independent Group, they added: 'We intend to sit as independents alongside the Independent Group of MPs in the centre ground of British politics.

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'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.'

Anna Soubry tweeted a picture of the letter of resignation signed by the three MPs, adding: 'It is with a heavy heart I have today resigned from the Conservative Party.'

The move comes after Joan Ryan became the eighth Labour MP to quit her party and join the seven who initially formed the Independent Group, accusing Jeremy Corbyn of 'presiding over a culture of antisemitism and hatred of Israel'.

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