MP rules out joining former colleague in breakaway Independent Group

Jonathan Djanogly. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Jonathan Djanogly. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has ruled out following former Conservative colleague Heidi Allen in quitting the party.

South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen. Picture: Heidi Allen MP YouTube

South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen. Picture: Heidi Allen MP YouTube - Credit: Archant

Ms Allen, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, was one of three Conservative members who announced they were defecting to the new Independent Group on February 19, joining eight former Labour Party MPs.

However, despite speculation that he might be tempted to join the breakaway, Mr Djanogly took to social media to deny he was planning to leave the party.

He said: “Contrary to media speculation, I am happy to confirm that I am not considering resigning from the Conservative Party and nor has anyone approached me to do so.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May explaining their decision, Ms Allen, Sarah Wollaston, and Anna Soubry wrote: “We no longer feel we can remain in the party of a government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the European Research Group and Democratic Unionist Party.

“Brexit has redefined the Conservative Party – undoing all the efforts to modernise it. There has been a dismal failure to stand up to the hard line ERG which operates openly as a party within a party, with its own leader, whip and policy.

“We also reject the false binary choice that you have presented to Parliament between a bad deal and a no deal.

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“Running down the clock to March 29 amounts to a policy of no deal and we are not prepared to wait until our toes are at the edge of the cliff.”

Reacting to the announcement, Mrs May said: “I am saddened by this decision – these are people who have given dedicated service to our party over many years, and I thank them for it.”

MPs Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Chris Leslie defected from Labour to form the group on February 18, with Joan Ryan joining them a day later

“We intend to sit as independents alongside the Independent Group of MPs in the centre ground of British politics,” said the former Tory trio.

“There will be times when we will support the government.

“But we now feel honour bound to put our constituents’ and country’s interests first.”

Ms Allen became South Cambs’ MP during the 2015 general election and also stood for the role of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor – but she failed to progress to the final round of the internal selection process after a vote by local party members in January 2017.

She was re-elected in the snap general election of 2017, and has strongly advocated remaining in the EU – calling for a People’s Vote over Brexit.