Ex-Tory Anna Soubry heaps praise on Cameron-era austerity as she joins former Labour MPs in new centrist group
Former Tory MP Anna Soubry today heaped praise on the austerity imposed on the country under David Cameron as she teamed up with ex-Labour MPs in a new Commons grouping.
The ex-minister said the Coalition government “did a marvellous” job and argued the cuts to public services masterminded by George Osborne were “absolutely necessary at the time”.
She made the comments while the former Labour MPs looked on at a press conference to herald her departure - alongside two ex-Tory colleagues - from Conservative ranks.
Ms Soubry, Heidi Allen and Dr Sarah Wollaston dramatically resigned the Tory whip saying the pro-Brexit hard right was controlling the party “from top to toe”.
They join ex-Labour figures Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker, Joan Ryan and Angela Smith in the Independents Group.
Asked during the press conference today if the Tory MPs still backed the economic record of the Tories, Ms Soubry said the coalition tie-up with the Lib Dems between 2010 and 2015 “did the right thing”.
“I think the coalition government, which I served in, did a marvellous job and one of the reasons it did that is because it was two parties working together,” she insisted.
She added: “I think the things we did to the economy were absolutely necessary at the time. I don’t have a problem with that.”
She admitted there had been “difficulties” and noted local councils had suffered - but argued the country was at risk of running a “dangerous deficit” if it had not acted at the time.
But her colleague Heidi Allen appeared to take a different tone when she said the Conservatives had been blind to the “suffering endured by the most vulnerable in society - suffering which we have deepened, whilst having the power to fix.”
The three Tory MPs meanwhile complained that a wave of former Ukip activists were flooding into the Conservative party to put pressure on pro-Remain MPs at a local level.
“It’s a form of tyranny. And it’s ironic that Conservatives observe and condemn it in the Labour party but it’s happening in their own party,” Ms Soubry said.
On Brexit the MPs called on Conservative ministers to “stand up for what is right” and quit their jobs to vote against leaving the EU without a deal.
Ms Allen meanwhile said the new Independents Group would have to fight the two major parties who want to “crush the birth of democracy”.
“They want to crush people like us trying to change things for this country,” she complained.
“And this is the game of course that they will play. But we are better than that and we think our constituents and the country are better than that.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe