What the papers say – February 21

Three MPs defecting from the Conservative party make headlines in Thursday’s papers after Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston joined The Independent Group.

The Times runs with the angle that David Cameron made an attempt to keep the trio within the Conservative Party, apparently asking Ms Soubry “Is it too late to persuade you to stay?”

The Daily Telegraph claims the defectors have “pledged to destroy the Conservative Party”.

The Guardian says the “rebels” have “denounced the grip of hardliners”.

The Financial Times also carries a picture of the three MPs, while its main story focuses on concerns about Sainsbury’s takeover of Asda.

The Metro leads on the defections, saying the trio was “upset by the rise of the right”.

The i carries the headline “Tories join the exodus”, and reports that Cabinet ministers are “privately supportive” of The Independent Group.

The Independent leads on a rise in the number of Britons being stripped of their citizenship.

The Daily Mirror calls the defections a “Brexodus” and says Prime Minister Theresa May is “braced for more”.

The Sun says “Brexit haters” have quit the Tories, calling it a “turncoat crisis”.

The Daily Mail runs with the claim from the three MPs that the Conservative Party has been taken over from “top to toe” by Brexit extremists.

The Daily Express contrasts the picture of the three MPs smiling with the headline “No laughing matter”.

And the Daily Star carries comments from Caroline Flack about her appearance.

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