Profiled: The three British MPs resigning from Tory Party to join Independent Group

British MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group.

Writing to the British Prime Minister, they 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."

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."

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.

"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."

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she was "saddened" by the resignations but insisted "we are doing the right thing for our country" by delivering Brexit.

"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.

"I am determined that under my leadership the Conservative Party will always offer the decent, moderate and patriotic politics that the people of this country deserve."

The three former Conservative MPs have been among the most vocal Tory opponents of a hard Brexit:

Heidi Allen

Elected to Parliament as MP for South Cambridgeshire in 2015, Ms Allen made a name for herself from the start for her willingness to speak out against her own Government’s policies where she felt they were damaging.

She used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to denounce planned cuts to tax credits, warning they would force working families into debt. She later put pressure on then Prime Minister David Cameron to take in Syrian refugees.

Conservative MP Heidi Allen spoke out in the Commons about the Government’s welfare plans (PA Archive/PA Images)

And after campaigning for Remain in the 2016 referendum, she became one of the strongest voices on the Tory benches against a hard Brexit, calling for a second referendum and declaring she would quit the party if Jacob Rees-Mogg became leader.

After a corporate career with  ExxonMobil and Royal Mail, 44-year-old Ms Allen has served on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee. She gave an emotional speech in a 2018 Commons debate on Northern Irish abortion laws about her own “incredibly hard” decision to have a termination.

She had a 2017 majority of 15,952 and her area voted  60% Remain.

Anna Soubry

A journalist and barrister, Anna Soubry was elected to Parliament in 2010 as MP for Broxtowe in her home county of Nottinghamshire, winning the seat from Labour.

She served in David Cameron’s coalition administration in ministerial jobs in the Department of Health and Ministry of Defence, where she was the first elected woman minister in the department. She moved to the Business Department after the 2015 election delivered a Conservative Government.

Ms Soubry, 62, campaigned for  Remain and said she and her family “wept” after the result was announced. She joined the pro-EU Open Britain campaign after the referendum, but quit when it called for the unseating of Conservaitve MPs in the 2017 election.

Anna Soubry was heckled by pro-Brexit protesters outside Parliament (Victoria Jones/PA)

She has repeatedly rebelled against the Government over Brexit, and earlier this month secured ministers’ agreement to show her economic advice on the risks of no-deal after tabling an amendment in the House of Commons.

Police launched an investigation last month after Ms Soubry was allegedly targeted for  abuse by yellow jacket-wearing pro-Brexit protesters outside Parliament.

She had a 2017 majority of 863 and her area voted 55% Leave.

Sarah Wollaston

A GP by profession, Dr Wollaston was the first Conservative candidate to be selected by open primary, with postal ballot papers sent to every voter in the Totnes constituency.

She was elected as MP for the seat, in Devon, in 2010 and quickly established herself as an independent-minded voice on the Conservative backbenches, turning down a job as a ministerial aide in order to be able to speak out. In 2011 she warned Mr Cameron that his health reforms could “destroy” the NHS and in 2013 she rebelled to vote against military action in Syria.

Sarah Wollaston was the first Conservative candidate to be selected by open primary (Peter Byrne/PA)

Dr Wollaston, 57, was initially a support of EU withdrawal, but dramatically switched sides during the referendum campaign, complaining that Vote Leave’s claim of extra money for the NHS after Brexit “simply isn’t true”.

After rebelling against the Government over Brexit, she dropped plans to table an amendment to deliver a second referendum at the last minute in January, saying that Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to back a public vote doomed it to failure.

She had a 2017 majority of 13,477 and her area voted 53% Remain.

PA

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