Amber Rudd has slammed the government for the lack of work going into getting a deal with the EU after she sensationally quit in protest of the Prime Minister’s handling of Brexit.
The Hastings and Rye MP quit her post as Work and Pensions Secretary on Saturday and said she was relinquishing the Tory whip after Boris Johnson sacked 21 rebels this week.
Mr Johnson removed the whip from two former chancellors and Winston Churchill's grandson after they voted to let opposition MPs start the process of blocking a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms Rudd conceded that Mr Johnson should be able to keep no-deal on the table, but said not enough effort is being put into getting a deal with the EU.
She said: “Unfortunately I can no longer continue to serve and I have been surprised by the lack of work and preparation that is going into getting a deal with the European Union.
“I knew and I accept that the Prime Minister should be able to leave no deal on the table but what I had expected to see was a huge government-centred effort to get a deal and at the moment there is a lot of work going on into no deal and not enough into getting a deal.”
In comments likely to reverberate across Westminster as it gears up for a tumultuous week, Ms Rudd said she thought no-deal was now the Government's main aim in her resignation letter.
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Ms Rudd also denounced Mr Johnson’s purge of “good strong Conservative MPs” as she quit.
She added: “I’ve seen 21 of my colleagues, good strong conservative MPs with true moderate progressive values, excluded from the party, indicating that the Conservative Party which is such a force for good no longer has a place for people who have different views on the European Union.”
“I can’t stand by that,” she told The Sunday Times.
Ms Rudd, who was also minister for disabled people, yesterday called the purge of Tory MPs “short-sighted”, and said it has “stripped the party of broad-minded and dedicated MPs”.
Ms Rudd has represented her constituency since 2010 and has one of the smallest majorities in the country, with only 346 votes separating her from her Labour rival in 2017.
More than one in ten MPs have changed their party in the current parliament after Ms Rudd quit the Cabinet and became an independent.
Figures show that 73 members have changed party affiliation - including becoming independent or joining a new party - since Theresa May was elected with a minority government in 2017.
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Much of the chopping and changing has come about due to Brexit, with the Conservatives suspending 21 MPs after defying the whip to vote against a no-deal Brexit.
Those newly designated independents include former chancellors Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke.
Seven MPs who left the Labour party to form an Independent Group owing to concerns about anti-Semitism in the party and Brexit are also included within this tally, as is Chuka Ummuna's switch from Change UK to independent and then to Liberal Democrat.
The last Parliament, where Theresa May held a majority of 16, only saw six changes of party including sole Ukip MP Douglas Carswell becoming an independent, while the 2010-15 Parliament saw 18 changes of party including Mr Carswell and Mark Reckless becoming Ukip's first MPs.