Heidi Allen says Tory rebels aim to destroy Conservative Party after defecting to Independent Group
One of the rebel Tory MPs who quit to join Labour colleagues in the Independent Group has said she wants to destroy her old party.
In outspoken comments, Heidi Allen said if the newly-formed bloc is a success “there won’t be a Tory party to go back to”.
She also said around a third of Tories were frustrated with the direction the party is heading in, while another top MP warned he would resign the whip if Britain heads for a no-deal Brexit.
Ms Allen dramatically quit the party yesterday alongside Anna Soubry and Dr Sarah Wollaston, joining eight Labour MPs in the centrist grouping that was launched on Monday.
The self-styled “three amigos” said they resigned to fight against Brexit and argued the Conservative party had been taken over by the hard right.
Asked at a press briefing yesterday if she could ever rejoin the Tories, Ms Allen said: “I can’t imagine it, I just can’t. Not least because if we do our jobs right there won’t be a Tory party to go back to.
“We are about creating something better that is bang smack in the centre ground of British politics, that people out there I am convinced, we are convinced, want.”
She added: “This is about the future, this is not about going back.”
Appearing later on the ITV Peston show, she said “a third of the party” was fed up of the direction it was heading under Theresa May and might be tempted to quit as well.
Meanwhile, anti-Brexit former minister Dominic Grieve told Newsnight he would “certainly cease to take the whip if I thought the Government was about to take us into a no-deal Brexit”.
Pressed on whether that would mean leaving the Conservative party, he added: “I would have to leave the party - yes.”
He made the comments after Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted it was “fair to say that in the past few weeks the probability of a no-deal Brexit has gone up”.
Meanwhile, the Times reported that former Prime Minister David Cameron made a last-ditch bid to prevent the three Tories quitting, asking Ms Soubry: “Is it too late to persuade you to stay?”
After they resigned he posted a statement on Twitter which read: “I respect their decision, but disagree with them.
“We need strong voices at every level of the party calling for the modern, compassionate Conservatism that saw the Conservative Party return to office.”
The same paper meanwhile said Cabinet ministers were urging Mrs May to speak out against the hard-right in the party to prevent any further resignations.