Tory mayor James Palmer condemns Heidi Allen's decision to quit Tories as "foolish"
James Palmer, the Conservative mayor of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has launched a blistering attack on South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen for quitting the Tories in favour of the newly-formed Independent Group.
Mr Palmer called it a “foolish” decision and demanded a by-election to confirm that the constituents of South Cambridgeshire still supported her.
Ms Allen announced her resignation, along with Tory colleagues Sarah Wollaston and Anna Soubry, in a letter to the Prime Minister, citing the Brexit process as the reason for their departure.
In it, they said: “We find it unconscionable that a party, once trusted on the economy, more than any other, is now marching the country to the cliff edge of no deal.”
Ms Allen once proposed to stand for mayor of the Combined Authority, a job she planned to combine with being MP.
Mr Palmer, who was ultimately elected to the mayoral role, said: “It’s regrettable that Heidi Allen has felt it necessary to resign from the Conservative Party and join the new Independent Group of MPs.
“I believe this to have been a foolish decision. The Conservative Party is a broad church and its right and proper that if the Conservative Party wants to remain the Party of Government this remains the case. It needs to be a party where a range of different opinions are held and where healthy debate is encouraged.
“Heidi was elected as a Conservative MP and stood on a Conservative manifesto which had at its heart fully respected the referendum result. I expect that Heidi believes she can get elected as an Independent Group MP, I therefore encourage her to put this to the test and to trigger a by election. The people of South Cambridgeshire decided at the last election that they wanted a Conservative MP. They should now be given the opportunity to decide whether or not they want an Independent Group MP.
“I have read the joint resignation letter from the three MPs who have today resigned from the Conservative Party and I completely disagree with how they have drawn an equivalence between what’s happened within the Labour Party and what they claim has happened within the Conservative Party.
“The Labour Party has been taken over by the hard left and has given platforms to a number of deeply unsavoury characters. It’s a Party that has been labelled “institutionally anti-Semitic” and a threat to our national security by MP’s who only two days ago sat on its benches. It’s a Party that has allowed a young, pregnant Jewish MP to feel so unwelcome that she made the decision that she had no choice but to turn her back on the Labour Party after a campaign of bullying and intimidation.
“I do not recognise the “purple momentum” referred to in the resignation letter. I know all the Conservative associations of the county well and can confirm that they remain moderate broad churches where all are welcomed who subscribe to core Conservative values and principles.
“I hope Heidi enjoys her day in the limelight. In the meantime, South Cambridgeshire Conservatives need to unite and focus on ensuring that the next MP for South Cambridgeshire is a Conservative MP. I am one hundred per cent with them in this endeavour.”
More by this authorPaul Brackley