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Suffolk Tories react to MPs's departure from party over Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:20 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:20 20 February 2019

MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston who have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group. Picture: PA Wire

MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston who have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group. Picture: PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

Suffolk Conservatives were today digesting the news that three high-profile remainer MPs had left the party over the party's Brexit stance - but did not expect an early general election.

The letter to the Prime Minister, written and signed by MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, who have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group. Picture: PA WireThe letter to the Prime Minister, written and signed by MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, who have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group. Picture: PA Wire

Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen, former minister Anna Soubry, and Devon MP Sarah Wollaston quit the party and said they would join the new Independent group in the House of Commons that was formed by the defection of eight Labour MPs earlier this week.

The three former Tories claimed the Prime Minister had failed to stand up to the “hard line” European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers.

In a letter to Theresa May, the three MPs 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 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.”

They added: “The final straw for us has been this Government’s disastrous handling of Brexit.”

Ipswich Conservative candidate Tom Hunt, who supports Brexit, said he was disappointed by the MPs’ decision – but did not make a general election more likely.

He said: “The Conservative Party has always been a broad church welcoming people with different views on major issues and I do not think that will change.”

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