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Labour and Tories face more resignations with Independent Group growing

Thursday, February 21st 2019 - 15:33 UTC
Full article 3 comments
Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “saddened” by his former colleagues' comments, but denied the ”relatively small hardcore (ERG)”  had taken over Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “saddened” by his former colleagues' comments, but denied the ”relatively small hardcore (ERG)” had taken over
Prime Minister May has rejected claims the party has abandoned the centre ground in its pursuit of a hard Brexit Prime Minister May has rejected claims the party has abandoned the centre ground in its pursuit of a hard Brexit
Tory MP and vice chairman of the ERG Mark Francois denied his group was a “party within a party” that had taken control Tory MP and vice chairman of the ERG Mark Francois denied his group was a “party within a party” that had taken control
ERG are “a group of Conservative MPs who are passionately committed to honoring the democratic decision of the British people that we should leave the EU” ERG are “a group of Conservative MPs who are passionately committed to honoring the democratic decision of the British people that we should leave the EU”
Tory MP Justine Greening said she would quit her party if it allowed a no-deal Brexit, while Labor's Ian Austin said he was considering his position. Tory MP Justine Greening said she would quit her party if it allowed a no-deal Brexit, while Labor's Ian Austin said he was considering his position.

British Labour and Conservatives parties could face more resignations, with members of the new Independent Group saying they expect more MPs to join them. Ex-Tory MP Heidi Allen told ITV's Peston program “a third” of Tory MPs were fed up with the party's direction.

Tory MP Justine Greening said she would quit her party if it allowed a no-deal Brexit, while Labor's Ian Austin said he was considering his position.

MPs from the new group say they stand for “the centre ground of politics”. The group was set up by eight defecting Labour MPs unhappy about their party's handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They were later joined by three pro-Remain Tories - who accuse the Conservative leadership of allowing right-wing hardliners to shape the party's approach to Brexit and other matters.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “saddened” by his former colleagues' comments, but denied the “relatively small hardcore” - namely the pro-Leave European Research Group - had taken over.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today program: “The Conservative Party is, always has been and, in my view, must remain a very broad church.

”I understand their concerns, but I hope over time they will feel able to rejoin the party and help maintain that.“

A number of other MPs have expressed sympathy with the group's grievances.

Speaking to the Express Star, Labor's Mr Austin said he would think ”long and hard“ about his future in the party.

And Conservative Ms Greening told the Today program she would find it hard to stay in a party that ”crashed us out of the EU“.

The former education secretary said: ”I am not prepared to be part of a Conservative Party that blithely thinks that's some kind of strategy for Britain in any way, shape or form.“

Sarah Wollaston, one of the MPs who left the Conservatives for the Independent Group, estimated that one third of the cabinet would quit if the UK left the EU without a deal.

Mr Hammond would not reveal if he would resign his post, but he said the fact a no-deal Brexit was ”always a possibility“ had ”focused minds“ and was encouraging compromise.

However, he added that the government was ”absolutely committed to avoiding [a no-deal] outcome and making sure that we get the deal“.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve told BBC's Newsnight he admired the courage of the 11 members of the Independent Group and agreed totally with their support for another EU referendum.

”I would certainly cease to take the whip if I thought the Government was about to take us into a No Deal Brexit. I am absolutely clear about that“

Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected claims the party has abandoned the centre ground in its pursuit of a hard Brexit, pledging to continue to offer the ”decent, moderate and patriotic politics that I believe the people of the UK deserve“.

Tory MP and vice chairman of the ERG Mark Francois denied his group was a ”party within a party“ that had taken control, saying they were ”a group of Conservative MPs who are passionately committed to honoring the democratic decision of the British people that we should leave the EU“.

He added: ”Conversely, Anna, Heidi and Sarah are now a party without a party, who are committed to precisely the opposite. As a result, we shall see how they get on.”

Senior Conservatives have suggested the door is open for the three Tories who quit - Ms Soubry, Ms Allen and Dr Wollaston - to return one day.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • bushpilot

    I thought that this Independent Party started because of “anti-semitism”. How many jewish people can there be in the UK anyway?

    But they really left the Labour Party because they want to Remain and want a second referendum, right?`

    Now, these 3 pro-remain Tories, are they quitting because of anti-semitism too? Do the Tories also have a bad problem with anti-semitism?

    “the new group say they stand for “the centre ground of politics””. The center? Aren't they all Remainers? How is that the center?

    “Whatever I want automatically becomes the rational logical middle ground”, right?

    If the UK can't leave without a deal, it will remain in the EU because there can't be a deal. The only deal possible is an “almost remain” deal anyway. Either way, remain, just like these people want. Never mind the majority will of the real people.

    A second referendum? That'd be a shit storm?

    Feb 22nd, 2019 - 04:32 am 0
  • DemonTree

    @Bushpilot
    It says right in the article that the Labour MPS were “unhappy about their party's handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism”. I'd say Corbyn and his hard left policies are the common thread, and for the Tories who joined, it's similarly the excessive influence of the far right wing of the party. For at least the last couple of decades, it's been the centrist politicians who have been most in favour of the EU. Remember. 'Wet' Tory Cameron was pro-EU, while leftist Corbyn has always been a Euro-sceptic.

    Anyway, at least they are doing something, unlike the rest of that miserable lot. If they need to delay A50 in order to get a deal they can live with, that is better than crashing out with no planning. As for a second referendum, it would obviously have been undemocratic to do it back in 2016. But enough has changed since then and enough new information become available that it would be reasonable now. Whether people prefer no Brexit, May's deal or no deal, it would at least break the deadlock.

    Feb 23rd, 2019 - 11:54 am 0
  • bushpilot

    In what month of what year did the tangible pursuit of “a deal we can live with” begin in earnest?

    In March of 2019 how many months will have been spent in that pursuit of “a deal we can live with”?

    With the amount of time already spent in pursuit of “a deal we can live with”, how close have they come to that goal?

    If no deal is reached in March of 2019, how many more months do you think Article 50 should be delayed, at which time “a deal we can live with” will have been achieved?

    Do you think it likely that sometime in the future the EU and the UK and the Labour Party and the Tories and the new Independent Party can all arrive at “a deal we can live with”?

    The results from a detailed second referendum “might” jumpstart the process.

    Will these three parties be able to agree on the content of the questions to be put forth in a second referendum?

    Feb 23rd, 2019 - 09:34 pm 0
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