Independent Group: Tory quit threat amid claims 'a THIRD of Cabinet would walk'

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are braced for new defections to the Independent Group as the leaders desperately battle to contain the exodus.

Two new Tories, Justine Greening and Dominic Grieve, have threatened to quit over Brexit – while rumours continue to swirl around Labour.

The splitters have turned their attention to ruling out a no deal Brexit after three Tories bumped the new group – which has no leader, policies or declared funding – up to 11 MPs yesterday.

Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen launched blistering attacks on the Tories with Ms Allen saying she wants to DESTROY the party.

And Ms Soubry savaged Theresa May, telling The Times: “I don’t mean this in a cruel way, but I think she is absolutely delusional about the situation that she and this country are in.

“I just don’t think she is awfully good at the job to be honest.”

This morning Ms Wollaston warned the Conservative party is “destroying itself” and senior ministers are ready to quit unless the PM rules out quitting the EU without a deal.


The group has no leader, policies or declared funding, and is not a political party


She told the BBC: “I know that there are many colleagues on my side who will be watching carefully and expecting Theresa May to be certain that she is not going to take us out on a no-deal Brexit .

“Certainly I think that a third of the Cabinet, I’m pretty clear, would walk if they were looking at a no-deal Brexit.”

It is not suggested that a third of Cabinet ministers would quit the party – but quitting the government would itself be a hammerblow to the PM.

And the warning comes as she faces a showdown vote next Wednesday on whether to delay Brexit, putting off the chance of no deal.


The Independent Group: (1) Chris Leslie (2) Gavin Shuker (3) Chuka Umunna (4) Mike Gapes (5) Angela Smith (6) Luciana Berger (7) Ann Coffey (8) Sarah Wollaston (9) Heidi Allen (10) Anna Soubry (11) Joan Ryan

Ms Wollaston disagreed with Heidi Allen’s claim that the group should destroy the Tory Party but said: “The village is burning itself”.

She added: “Both the Tory party and the Labour Party are making themselves unelectable by drifting to the fringes.”

Heidi Allen told ITV’s Robert Peston a third of Tories were unhappy with the party’s direction.

While Anna Soubry told Newsnight she thinks May has “got a problem with immigration” and said it was “personal”.

The Tories crossed the floor as they quit to sit with ex-Labour MPs yesterday

They sit on the physical fringe of the chamber while accusing the two main parties of fringe politics

All eyes in Westminster are now on who could join the group next.

Ex-Education Secretary Justine Greening, one of those tipped to quit, told the BBC she was staying put “for the moment”.

Revealing “she had “not seen the Prime Minister recently” despite asking “on multiple occasions”, she added: “I fail to see how we can be successful in the long-term if we are simply a party of Brexit.

“There will be other parties that stand for Brexit, no doubt, running at the next election.

“If we are not a party that seems credible on economic policy or on opportunity; if we don’t reach out to a new generation, then I think we have to accept that we will simply not have the level of support in the country we need to be a credible political party.”

She added: “I don’t think I would be able to stay part of a party that was simply a Brexit party that had crashed us out of the European Union.”


Justine Greening said: “I don’t think I would be able to stay part of a party that was simply a Brexit party”


Conservative former attorney general  Dominic   Grieve  stopped short of saying he would join the group after stating he would leave the Tories if the Government backed a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Grieve told the BBC: “The Government which I am supporting implementing a no-deal Brexit – what would I do?

“I would not be able to maintain my support of the Government.

“I would have to leave the party.”

Dominic Grieve said: “The Government which I am supporting implementing a no-deal Brexit? I would have to leave the party”


Meanwhile, speculation was mounting that a fresh batch of Labour MPs was poised to resign over anti-Semitism.

Potential defectors could include Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman, Siobhain McDonagh and Ian Austin, according to Labour sources.

Both Margaret Hodge’s and John Mann’s websites were down last night.

But Margaret Hodge told the Mirror rumours of her leaving Labour as early as today were “not true”.

Siobhain McDonagh, who has threatened to leave if Corbyn doesn’t take further action, also said there was “no truth in rumours” she may be leaving today.

And Ian Austin told TalkRadio he was not quitting today either.

Some Labour MPs, including Siobhain McDonagh, denied rumours they’ll quit today

Last night it emerged David Cameron made a last-ditch bid to prevent the Tory “three amigos” quitting.

“Is it too late to persuade you to stay?” he asked in a text – and it was.

Chancellor Philip Hammond today said he was “saddened” by the Tory MPs’ departure – but said wanting to destroy the Tories was “nonsense”.

He admitted there is “a group of MPs on the hard wing” of the Conservatives over Brexit, but denied splitters’ claims a “BLUKIP” is taking over the party.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I hope that, over time, they will feel able to rejoin the party and help to maintain it as that broad church, that coalition of views that has been so successful over so many decades.”

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