THE Tory MPs who quit the party yesterday were told they are making a ‘big mistake’ by their former colleagues.
Conservative MP Grant Shapps (pictured) said the situation is ‘sad’ and rejected suggestions that the trio are putting constituents ahead of hard Brexiteers.
He tweeted: ‘They’ve wrongly concluded colleagues who support #Brexit are not putting constituents first! #Remain or #Leave doesn’t define whether you’re a moderate!’
Fellow Tory MP Nicky Morgan said she is ‘very sorry’ to lose Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston.
She tweeted: ‘Any political party should be a broad church and we should regret losing three such talented women.’
In a WhatsApp message to Tory MPs, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote: ‘We hope our colleagues’ departure will be short lived.’ He added that the ‘door should be left open for them to return’. But former party chairman Eric Pickles said the MPs’ move to join The Independent Group set up by former Labour MPs is ‘expected, sad, and ultimately a big mistake for the individuals’.
Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, praised the ‘brave’ move, while leader Sir Vince Cable said his party ‘will hold out the hand of friendship to the independent MPs with whom we already have a good working relationship’.
But Scottish Labour’s Danielle Rowley condemned the other members of the Independent Group. ‘How people who once called themselves Labour can cosy up next to the likes of [Anna] Soubry, smiling and laughing, is absolutely beyond me,’ she tweeted.