Labour and Conservatives braced for further defections to Independent Group

Both Labour and the Conservatives are braced for further walkouts as the creation of a new independent grouping of MPs continues to rip through the political landscape.

As members of The Independent Group (TIG) said they expected to see more MPs join them, it emerged former prime minister David Cameron made a last-ditch bid to try to stop a trio of Tories quitting.

High-profile ex-minister Anna Soubry said Mr Cameron had reached out to the MPs as they prepared to turn their backs on the Tories for TIG.

Ms Soubry told The Times Red Box podcast that Mr Cameron sent them a text saying: "Is it too late to persuade you to stay?"

As attacks on the Prime Minister from ex-Tory MPs intensified, Ms Soubry accused Theresa May of having a personal "problem" with immigration.

Ms Soubry told BBC2's Newsnight: "The only reason why she will not agree to the single market is because of free movement of people.

"And I think what's really worried me about Theresa, and she has history in the Home Office that supports this, because I'm an old barrister, I look at the evidence, and I think she's got a problem with immigration.

"I really, honestly do."

Asked if she meant it was a personal rather than policy issue for the PM, Ms Soubry said: "Oh yeah, I think she has a thing about immigration and I don't know where the hell that's come from.

"Because in a modern Conservative Party, when you again look at the evidence, you know, if we don't have all these people that come and do all this work in our country, who on earth is going to do it?"

POLITICS Labour
(PA Graphics)

Fellow TIG MP Heidi Allen said that around 100 of her former colleagues on the Tory benches shared her frustrations at the direction of the Conservative Party.

Ms Allen told ITV's Peston: "I'd say a third of the party."

Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he would leave the party if the Government backed a no-deal Brexit.

34 PHOTOS
The Independent Group
See Gallery
The Independent Group
(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan, following a press conference for the Independent Group where the three Conservative MPs, Wollaston, Allen and Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 04/10/16 of Tory MP Heidi Allen, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group.
(back row left to right) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan, following a press conference for the Independent Group where the three Conservative MPs, Wollaston, Allen and Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 20/10/18 of MP Sarah Wollaston, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
Chuka Umunna and Angela Smith (foreground) with Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes and Chris Leslie (background) leave One Great George Street in London, following a press conference for the Independent Group where three Conservative MPs, Sarah Woollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry, announced their resignation from the party.
File photo dated 15/01/91 of MP Anna Soubry, who has resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
Chris Leslie (standing), Angela Smith and Mike Gapes (right), who were among the seven MPs to quit Labour to sit as an independent group, in the seats next to the DUP during health questions in the House of Commons, London.
Conservative MPs (left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen, during a press conference at One Great George Street in London, following the announcement that they have resigned from the Conservative Party and joined the Independent Group of MPs.
File photo dated 05/06/2008 of Labour MP Joan Ryan, who has announced she is quitting the party and will join the Independent Group in the House of Commons.
Britain's Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna arrives at a news conference in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna makes an announcement he is leaving the party, in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's Labour Party MP Luciana Berger arrives at a news conference in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Labour's Brexit stance and its handling of antisemitism has resulted in seven lawmakers leaving the party.
REFILE - QUALITY REPEAT Britain's Labour Party MP Gavin Shuker makes an announcement he is leaving the party, in London, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Former Labour party MPs Ann Coffey (Centre L), and Chuka Umunna arrive to speak at a press conference in London on February 18, 2019, where they and colleagues announced their resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of a new independent group of MPs. - Seven MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party on Monday announced they were breaking away and forming an independent group in protest at the party's support for Brexit and its failure to stamp out anti-Semitism. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Chuka Umunna, U.K. lawmaker, gestures while speaking during a news conference announcing his resignation from the main U.K. opposition Labour Party in London, U.K., on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Umunna is one of seven members of Parliament saying they will stand as independents after quitting the Labour Party over issues including Brexit and antisemitism. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Labour party MP Luciana Berger (C), arrives with MPs Chris Leslie (3R), Angela Smith (2R) and Gavin Shuker, to speak at a press conference in London on February 18, 2019, where they announced their resignation from the Labour Party, and the formation of a new independent group of MPs. - Seven MPs from Britain's opposition Labour Party on Monday announced they were breaking away and forming an independent group in protest at the party's support for Brexit and its failure to stamp out anti-Semitism. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Labour MP Angela Smith who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Mike Gapes who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker and and who will be known as the Independent Group. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Labour MP Chukka Umunna announces his resignation from the Labour Party at a press conference on February 18, 2019 in London, England. Chukka Umunna MP along with Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Anne Coffey and Mike Gapes have announced they have resigned from the Labour Party and will sit in the House of Commons as The Independent Group of Members of Parliament. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger and Gavin Shuker after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MPs (left to right) Chris Leslie (Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, (both hidden left), Gavin Shuker, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna speaks during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London where, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey, announced his resignation from the Labour Party and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group.
Luciana Berger MP arrives at a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London where she announced her resignation from the Labour party and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group, with six other Labour MPs who have also resigned today.
Luciana Berger stands with other Labour MPs, (left to right) Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Gavin Shuker, following a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, where they and Angela Smith and Ann Coffey, resigned from the party to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Angela Smith leaves County Hall in Westminster, London where she announced her resignation from the Labour party, and the creation of a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, with six other Labour MPs who have also resigned today.
Labour MP Luciana Berger following a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, where along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker, resigned from the party to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons, in the most significant split in British politics since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the 1980s.
Labour MP Luciana Berger speaks as she announces her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker, and the formation of a splinter group which will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MPs (left to right) Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Chuka Umunna after they announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, to create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons.
Labour MPs Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker, listen to Chuka Umunna answering questions, after they and Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Chris Leslie announced their resignations during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, and the formation of a new political party, which will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Mike Gapes who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker and and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Ann Coffey who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Gavin Shuker and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Gavin Shuker who has announced his resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
Labour MP Angela Smith who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris LeslieAngela Smith and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Mr Grieve told the BBC: "I can't predict where I might be if the party goes completely off the rails – that's another matter."

He added: "The Government which I am supporting implementing a no-deal Brexit – what would I do?

"I would not be able to maintain my support of the Government.

"I would have to leave the party."

Lord Peter Mandelson said he felt "morally compromised" staying in Labour following anti-Semitic abuse endured by people such as ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger.

The Labour peer told ITV's Peston: "When I look at the sort of anti-Semitic abuse to which Luciana Berger has been subjected, but not alone, many others in the party, I feel ashamed, I feel actually quite morally compromised staying in a party that can spew out so much hatred towards other members of their own party.

"Now what is Jeremy Corbyn going to do about this? I mean, this risks growing from a splinter into a cavernous split in our party if he doesn't take action to stop it."

Lord Mandelson urged Labour MPs to remain in the party.

The defections of Ms Soubry, Ms Allen and Sarah Wollaston from the Tories took the number of TIG MPs to 11.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS