Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen (pictured) have written to Theresa May saying the party had lurched to the right and was “in the grip” of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and the European Research Group over Brexit. They said there had been a “dismal failure” to stand up to them.
They said that leaving the EU had “redefined the Conservative Party – undoing all the efforts to modernise it”, adding: “We find it unconscionable that a party, once trusted on the economy, more than any other, is now recklessly marching the country to the cliff edge of no deal.”
Mrs May said she was “saddened”, but her party would “always offer… decent, moderate and patriotic politics”.
The Prime Minister said the UK’s membership of the EU had been “a source of disagreement both in our party and our country for a long time”, so “ending that membership after four decades was never going to be easy”.
But, she added: “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.”
The move by the Tory trio came after an eighth Labour MP resigned from their party over its handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.
Joan Ryan, the Enfield North MP, said she was “horrified, appalled and angered” by Labour’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism, saying its leadership allowed “Jews to be abused with impunity”.
Ms Ryan said she did not believe party leader Jeremy Corbyn was fit to lead the country.
The Independent Group was formed by former Labour MPs: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey, amid growing speculation of more resignations and a possible merger with the Liberal Democrats.
The departure of the Tory trio leaves Mrs May with an even slimmer Commons majority as she attempts to win support for her Brexit deal. The Independent Group, with 11 members, already has more than the DUP which supports the government on a confidence and supply arrangement.