- Former ministers warn that they are considering quitting the Conservative party to join the new Independent Group of MPs.
- Justine Greening and Dominic Grieve say they will leave if May pursues a no-deal Brexit.
- Both the Conservatives and Labour party are poised for more waves of resignations.
- Brexit is tearing the two major parties in British politics apart.
LONDON – Theresa May could suffer a second wave of walkouts from the Conservative Party if she pushes the country towards a no-deal Brexit, two senior backbenchers in the party have warned.
Former Education Secretary Justine Greening, who was tipped by members of the new Independent Group of MPs as being poised to quit, said that she would be unable to stay if the Conservatives became “the Brexit party.”
“The question for the Conservative party is have we been consumed by Brexit?” Greening told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“If we simply become the Brexit party we do not have a successful future.”
She said that while she had decided not to quit “for the moment” she would not remain if the prime minister pushed Britain towards leaving the EU without a deal.
Greening was supported by the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
“I would certainly cease to take the whip if I thought the Government was about to take us into a No Deal Brexit. I am absolutely clear about that,” Grieve told BBC’s Newsnight.
“I would have to leave the party.”
Former Conservative minister Philip Lee, who resigned from the government over Brexit, is also on the watchlist for a possible defection.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond told the Today programme that he understands the concerns of those who have quit.
“I understand their concerns, but I hope over time they will feel able to rejoin the party and maintain it as a broad church,” he said.
The warnings come as the Labour party leadership also braces itself for further walkouts from disgruntled MPs over the coming days and weeks.
Labour MPs Ian Austin, Siobhain McDonagh, Ian Murray and Margaret Hodge are all reportedly considering their positions, with others also publicly speaking out about their frustration with the party’s direction under Jeremy Corbyn.
The ongoing splits come as the prime minister struggles to secure changes to her Brexit deal that will allow it to pass through the Houses of Parliament.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, May and European Commission President Juncker said they would “continue to explore the options in a positive spirit.”
UK officials will again travel to Brussels on Thursday to further discuss possible legal “assurances” that can be made on the subject of the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.
But there is little sign of a breakthrough with MPs due to vote again next week on what steps the government should take.
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