London, February 21: A new centrist party in the United Kingdom is on the cards as three MPs from the ruling Conservative Party joined eight former Labour MPs who quit their party to form what is called ‘The Independent Group’ in the House of Commons.
A realignment in British politics prompted by Brexit-related reverberations since the 2016 referendum is likely to see more MPs joining the new formation. Prime Minister Theresa May travelled to Brussels again on Wednesday for talks on leaving the EU on March 29.
The three Conservative MPs — Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen — cited various issues with the party in their joint resignation letter to May, but added, “The final straw for us has been this Government’s disastrous handling of Brexit.”
The immediate objective of the new 11-strong formation is to reach the figure of 36, which will make it the third largest groupin the House of Commons, upstaging the Scottish National Party that won 35 seats in the 2017 mid-term elections.
The MPs wrote to May: “We also reject the false binary choice that you have presented to Parliament between a bad deal and no deal. Running down the clock…amounts to a policy of no deal and we are not prepared to wait until our toes are at the edge of the cliff”.
“We can no longer act as bystanders. We intend to sit as independents alongside The Independent Group of MPs in the centre ground of British politics”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Labour MP Joan Ryan resigned and joined seven of her former party colleagues who resigned on Monday. The buzz in Westminster is that at least one minister in the May government and several MPs from both major parties are likely to resign shortly.
Responding to the resignations, May wrote: “”I am saddened by this decision – these are people who have given dedicated service to our party over many years, and I thank them for it”.
“Of course, the UK’s membership of the EU has been a source of disagreement both in our party and our country for a long time. Ending that membership after four decades was never going to be easy”.
“But 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.” (Courtesy: HT)