EVEN though Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are trying, for now, to avoid too many awkward questions about this week’s raft of defections, they’re already on notice that others will join The Independent Group unless the main parties respond to the wishes of the political mainstream.
Not only are senior Labour MPs scathing about Mr Corbyn’s efforts to stamp out anti-Semitism, but the Tories are in trouble when a figure as respected as Justine Greening – the Rotherham-born former Education Secretary – is tempted to break ranks due to her party’s stance Brexit and social mobility.
Yet the intensity of the national focus on the 11 Tory and Labour MPs to leave their parties, and speculation about the identity of those who might follow in the coming days, is detracting from the failure of the Prime Minister – and Opposition leader – to respond to this wake-up call. Do they really think that it can continue to be as ‘business as usual’? If so, they’re blind to reality.
And while it is still early days for TIG as it seeks to exploit the public’s desire for change and build a new political movement from scratch, it is also significant that its MPs – all prominent Remainers – shunned the pro-EU Liberal Democrats and opted for a clean break. Given both groupings at Westminster have – for now – the same number of MPs, what does this say about the credibility of the Lib Dems under York-born Sir Vince Cable? He, too, has to face up to this new challenge.