I am obviously saddened by the departure of three Conservative MPs. They took the decision to resign the party whip today and will sit with the new ‘Independent Group’. I note the many messages of respect from colleagues and party members. 

Reading their resignation letter, the main issue is Brexit. In this respect, their stance is not a surprise given their previous statements and voting in the House. 

It appears that the Independent group is an anti-Brexit group. They are not currently a party but they are the same size as the Liberal Democrats (who must be feeling a bit sore that they have effectively failed to be the anti-Brexit and centrist party of choice for defectors). Time will tell what the new group decide to do. 

I note that the three (now ex) Conservative MPs have stated that there will be times that they will support the Government on things like the economy, security and public services. For me, this speaks volumes. It is an open secret that the Conservative party has had strong views and divisions about Europe for decades. Yet, even with Brexit arguments taking place, we have seen my broad church party work together and vote together on so many other issues relating to the economy, social justice and against Jeremy Corbyn (eg when he lost his no confidence vote). 

As I said in my note about the Labour party split, nobody should be rejoicing about MPs leaving parties. None of them would have made the decision lightly and things are changing all the time. I believe the main political parties should take some time to digest what the departing MPs have said, learn and change where necessary. 

The Prime Minister tweeted today about her sadness that the three have decided to leave. She talked about their dedicated service to the party and thanked them for it, concluding with: ‘I am determined that under my leadership the Conservative Party will always offer the decent, moderate and patriotic politics that the people of this country deserve.’

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