GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Commitee, has left Change UK less than four months after the party launched.
Dr Wollaston is joined in quitting by former interim leader Heidi Allen, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker. Each will be sitting in the Commons as independents.
The announcement means that the party are left with less than half of its original MPs – Anna Soubry, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey and Joan Ryan.
New leader Ms Soubry said: ‘I’m deeply disappointed that at such a crucial time in British politics our former colleagues have made this decision. Now is not the time to walk away, but instead to roll up our sleeves and stand up for the sensible mainstream centre ground which is unrepresented in British politics today.
Challenging the established broken political parties was never going to be easy. We registered as a political party to stand in the European elections but it was never our sole purpose. It is vital we continue leading the fight against a damaging Brexit, pressing for a People’s Vote and being prepared to revoke Article 50 in the face of a no-deal Brexit. But Brexit is not the cause of our broken politics, it is a symptom of it.’
This is Dr Wollaston’s second party resignation of the year. She also left the Conservative party in February, commenting at the time:
‘This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I no longer feel that the Conservatives are the same party that I joined a decade ago.
‘After 24 years as a front line doctor and teacher in the NHS, I entered politics because I wanted to bring that real life experience to help to shape and to scrutinise policy making.’
She then joined Change UK, which was comprised of both former Conservative and Labour MPs, and at the time called The Independent Group. The party gained 3.4% of the vote in the European Parliament elections last month.
Dr Wollaston, who represents the Totnes constituency, previously urged prime minister Theresa May to apologise for scapegoating GPs for the A&E crisis. She said blaming access to GP practices for patients being left on trolleys and ambulance delays was ‘pretty dismal stuff’ from the Government and a ‘failure to understand the complexity or own responsibility’.