CLA Director of External Affairs Tom Bartošák-Harlow comments on the latest MP resignations and looks at the implications on government and Brexit negotiations.
Following in the footsteps of the Southbank Seven, a group of Labour MPs who quit the party on Monday to set up a new independent grouping in Parliament, three Conservative MPs – Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire), Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) and Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) have joined them.
Unlike the resignations from the Labour Party these resignations are purely linked to the Government’s direction of travel on Brexit. The three MPs cited the control of the European Research Group (ERG) of MPs led by Jacob Rees Mogg and Steve Baker on the Government’s policy as a step too far and called the Government’s handling of Brexit as “disastrous”.
As mentioned in my blog earlier this week this could be the start of the snowball that gathers momentum with further defections over the next few weeks as the Government is forced, assuming its renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement fails, to declare what it will do next.
Perhaps the most important thing from these latest resignations is that the Prime Minister can no longer rely on three votes in a vote of no confidence in her government in the House of Commons – her working majority with the DUP is now only eight. Would Allen, Wollaston and Soubry vote against their former leader and force a General Election which could result in Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister? Having taken arguably the hardest step of leaving the Conservative Party I wouldn’t rule it out, especially if the Prime Minister continues to rule out a second referendum on Brexit, which is their ultimate goal.
What happens next? Well that is anybody’s guess but what we do know is that next week the Prime Minister faces a series of crunch votes on Brexit and no one except perhaps the Prime Minister knows what she will do next.