Former Conservative MP Heidi Allen has joined the Liberal Democrats, the party has said.
The South Cambridgeshire MP, who has been sitting as an independent since quitting the Change UK group in June, takes the Lib Dem tally in the Commons to 19.
Her move follows the recent arrivals of ex-Tories Sarah Wollaston, Sam Gyimah and Phillip Lee as well as former Labour MPs Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith and Luciana Berger.
“Voters crying for Remain Alliance”
She warned that the Conservative Party “had become utterly unrecognisable, uncompassionate and willing to wreck the economy and peace in Ireland by not just contemplating, but actively courting a No Deal Brexit.”
“Voters were crying out for a Remain Alliance to offer an alternative to the future portrayed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage,” she added.
Ms Allen originally quit the Tory Party in February, along with Ms Wollaston and Anna Soubry, to join the new Independent Group – later renamed Change UK – formed by ex-Labour MPs.
The following month it was announced that she had been appointed interim leader but she left three months later amid reports of disagreements over strategy.
Her South Cambridgeshire constituency is traditionally a safe Conservative seat which she held with a majority of almost 16,000 at the 2017 general election.
“Politically correct stooges”
Tory MP Philip Davies bemoaned some Conservative MPs he was heard to say were “politically correct stooges, chosen simply because of their gender or the colour of their skin” at the Conservative Party Conference this summer.
He later denied talking about the colour of MPs skin, but said he was referring to MPs such as Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston, prioritised by David Cameron because of their gender and ethnicity.
Ms Allen left the Tories in February and joined Change UK before becoming an independent.
She told BBC news that her constituents support her latest move and “are happier I put the national interest first.” She intends to contest her seat in the next election.
Ms Allen, a committed Remainer, said she was joining the Lib Dems as the other main parties had turned their backs on the “liberal progressive centre ground”.
“Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not just alongside, those I have collaborated and found shared values with,” she said.
“Shifting to the extremes, the Conservatives and Labour have turned their backs on the liberal, progressive centre ground our country is crying out for.
“As we face the monumental task ahead of stopping a damaging Brexit, healing the rifts in society and rebuilding the UK, there is only one party with the honesty, energy and vision to do that – and that is the Liberal Democrats.”
Ms Allen’s move was warmly welcomed by Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson.
“She has long been an ally in the fight to stop Brexit, and having worked with her I know the energy and passion she will bring to our party,” Ms Swinson said.
“This once again proves that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain.”
Heidi Allen’s full statement:
“When I became an MP in 2015, I could never have imagined we would find ourselves in this position. Through the prudent and practical decisions taken during the coalition years, the economy was recovering and our country was on the up.
Coming from business, joining the Conservative Party seemed the logical thing to do. But two general elections and an EU referendum later, the landscape has shifted beyond all recognition.
In February 2019, I resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent MP, because I recognised the Party had drifted irreversibly to the right and was more concerned with its own survival than the national interest.
The party had become utterly unrecognisable, uncompassionate and willing to wreck the economy and peace in Ireland by not just contemplating, but actively courting a No Deal Brexit.
The European Elections in May 2019 highlighted the need for MPs to work together in the national interest, putting aside party interests. Voters were crying out for a Remain Alliance to offer an alternative to the future portrayed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.
Believing that if you get the right people around a table anything is possible, I have always been comfortable with cross party working. So through the Summer and into the Autumn, as an independent broker, I have worked with the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Independents to build that Remain Alliance across England and Wales through the organisation I formed, Unite to Remain
Confident that good progress has now been made on building that Remain Alliance, I recognise that as with most things in life, I am stronger and more effective when I am part of a team.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country is to join the Liberal Democrats.
Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not just alongside, those I have collaborated and found shared values with.
Shifting to the extremes, the Conservatives and Labour have turned their backs on the liberal, progressive centre ground our country is crying out for. As we face the monumental task ahead of stopping a damaging Brexit, healing the rifts in society and rebuilding the UK, there is only one party with the honesty, energy and vision to do that – and that is the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Jo Swinson.
My constituency is liberal and inclusive, bursting with innovation – I am so proud to represent it as its Member of Parliament. I have been bowled over by the support I have received from every corner of it.
My constituents know we are stronger in Europe and they demand better for their country. They know that although there is a terrifying amount of work ahead of us, together, we can build a fairer and more compassionate future for everyone.
I got into politics to make a difference by challenging the status quo.
So please help me, support me and join me in the Liberal Democrats – let’s do this.”