The Catch-up: How much power does The Independent Group have?

What happened?

Three Conservative MPs quit the party today in protest at Theresa May’s handling of Brexit. Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Alexander and Anna Soubry and joined the eight former Labour MPs who quit their own party to form The Independent Group – a team of MPs who will vote together but are not an official political party. The three former Tories all campaigned to remain in the EU and support a second Brexit referendum. 

How much power does The Independent Group have?

There are now 11 members of the new group in Parliament, which means they have the same number of MPs as the Liberal Democrats and more than the DUP.

Theresa May lost her Government’s majority in the 2017 General Election and, as a result, relies on an agreement with the DUP to vote for her. The departure of three MPs eats into this already wafer-thin ‘working majority’ in Parliament. In light of the crushing defeats inflicted on the PM in recent weeks, this further dent in her power could make it even more difficult for her to security a majority for her Brexit deal. However each of the three Tories who quit today has been known to rebel against their own party, and couldn’t be relied upon to always vote with the Government anyway, reducing their potential impact.

When it comes to Brexit, the departure could see Mrs May move towards a harder Brexit. According to political scientist Professor John Curtice, now that the PM doesn’t need to keep the most vocal Remainers in her party happy, she is likely to move to appease the hard Brexiteer faction of the Tories such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. Read the full story here. (Yahoo News UK)

Who are the three Tory defectors? (The Guardian)
The real impact of rebel MPs will be on the next general election (The Independent)
Corbyn accuses eight Labour quitters of backing Tory austerity (HuffPost)
Emotional Soubry warns more defections are on the cards (Evening Standard)

Isis schoolgirl Shamima Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen and will not be allowed to live there, according to the country’s ministry of foreign affairs. The claim is the latest twist in the fate of Begum, who today was told she will be stripped of her British citizenship.  As the fallout continues, our poll reveals that the vast majority do not believe the jihadi schoolgirl should be allowed back into the UK. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)  and have your say below

 

Sainsbury’s loses £1bn in value in matter of hours

Roughly £1bn was wiped off the value of Sainsbury’s this morning as its planned takeover of Asda hit a major obstacle. The Government’s competition watchdog ruled that the merger of the two supermarkets, which would create a shopping giant to rival Tesco, would push up prices and be bad for shoppers. The regulator has the ability to block the £7.3bn merger with the final decision on the deal expected by the end of April. Shares in Sainsbury’s fell by about 16% after the announcement. Read the full story here (Yahoo Finance UK)

British schoolgirl, 9, dies after eating ice cream in the Costa Del Sol

A nine-year-old British girl has died after eating an ice cream while on holiday in Spain. The unnamed child is thought to have suffered an anaphylactic shock caused by an allergy to milk and nuts, according to Spanish media. She was rushed to the Costa del Sol Hospital from her hotel in Mijas and was later transferred to another hospital in Malaga, where she died on Monday afternoon. Read the full story here (HuffPost)

This elderly man caused a bizarre scene when he was spotted driving towards oncoming traffic in Worcester on his mobility scooter ‘without a care in the world’. The pensioner was caught on camera making his way under a bridge by an anonymous passer-by.

$250million

The amount the American schoolboy at the centre of a viral video controversy is seeking in damages from the Washington Post. Nick Sandmann was filmed being confronted by a Native American activist when he attended an anti-abortion rally in Washington in January. Lawyers for the 16-year-old, who was wearing a Make America Great Again baseball cap, claim the Washington Post “wrongfully targeted and bullied” him because of its “biased agenda” against Donald Trump. Read the full story here (The Independent)