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)

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