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Profiled: the campaigning MPs against hard Brexit who quit the Tories

The trio of female MPs have a record of rebelling against the Government in key votes.

Conservative MPs (left to right) Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Conservative MPs (left to right) Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The three former Conservative MPs who quit the party to join the Independent Group have been among the most vocal Tory opponents of a hard Brexit.

Heidi Allen

Elected to Parliament as MP for South Cambridgeshire in 2015, Ms Allen made a name for herself from the start for her willingness to speak out against her own Government’s policies where she felt they were damaging.

She used her maiden speech in the House of Commons to denounce planned cuts to tax credits, warning they would force working families into debt. She later put pressure on then Prime Minister David Cameron to take in Syrian refugees.

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Conservative MP Heidi Allen spoke out in the Commons about the Government’s welfare plans (PA Archive/PA Images)

And after campaigning for Remain in the 2016 referendum, she became one of the strongest voices on the Tory benches against a hard Brexit, calling for a second referendum and declaring she would quit the party if Jacob Rees-Mogg became leader.

After a corporate career with  ExxonMobil and Royal Mail, 44-year-old Ms Allen has served on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee. She gave an emotional speech in a 2018 Commons debate on Northern Irish abortion laws about her own “incredibly hard” decision to have a termination.

She had a 2017 majority of 15,952 and her area voted  60% Remain.

Anna Soubry

A journalist and barrister, Anna Soubry was elected to Parliament in 2010 as MP for Broxtowe in her home county of Nottinghamshire, winning the seat from Labour.

She served in David Cameron’s coalition administration in ministerial jobs in the Department of Health and Ministry of Defence, where she was the first elected woman minister in the department. She moved to the Business Department after the 2015 election delivered a Conservative Government.

Ms Soubry, 62, campaigned for  Remain and said she and her family “wept” after the result was announced. She joined the pro-EU Open Britain campaign after the referendum, but quit when it called for the unseating of Conservaitve MPs in the 2017 election.

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Anna Soubry was heckled by pro-Brexit protesters outside Parliament (Victoria Jones/PA)

She has repeatedly rebelled against the Government over Brexit, and earlier this month secured ministers’ agreement to show her economic advice on the risks of no-deal after tabling an amendment in the House of Commons.

Police launched an investigation last month after Ms Soubry was allegedly targeted for  abuse by yellow jacket-wearing pro-Brexit protesters outside Parliament.

She had a 2017 majority of 863 and her area voted 55% Leave.

Sarah Wollaston

A GP by profession, Dr Wollaston was the first Conservative candidate to be selected by open primary, with postal ballot papers sent to every voter in the Totnes constituency.

She was elected as MP for the seat, in Devon, in 2010 and quickly established herself as an independent-minded voice on the Conservative backbenches, turning down a job as a ministerial aide in order to be able to speak out. In 2011 she warned Mr Cameron that his health reforms could “destroy” the NHS and in 2013 she rebelled to vote against military action in Syria.

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Sarah Wollaston was the first Conservative candidate to be selected by open primary (Peter Byrne/PA)

Dr Wollaston, 57, was initially a support of EU withdrawal, but dramatically switched sides during the referendum campaign, complaining that Vote Leave’s claim of extra money for the NHS after Brexit “simply isn’t true”.

After rebelling against the Government over Brexit, she dropped plans to table an amendment to deliver a second referendum at the last minute in January, saying that Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to back a public vote doomed it to failure.

She had a 2017 majority of 13,477 and her area voted 53% Remain.

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