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Anna Soubry and the Independent Group don’t make a good fit

10 March 2019

9:00 AM

10 March 2019

9:00 AM

What does the Independent Group actually stand for? We know what they are against: Brexit and anti-Semitism. But so far the fledgling group has been somewhat shy about coming up with policies. With TIG MPs this week reportedly entering talks with the Electoral Commission about become a political party, they had better get a move on. Only Mr S. suspects the task won’t be an easy one, given that one of their members – former Tory MP Anna Soubry – seems to take a difference stance to the bulk of their colleagues on most issues. To help out, Steerpike has compiled a list of where Anna Soubry stands compared to her new colleagues:

Brexit:

It’s safe to say that when it comes to Brexit, TIG and Soubry are a match made in Parliamentary heaven. They have all spoken publicly of their support for a second referendum.

The TIG view: In February, Luciana Berger said in an email to party members that ‘Brexit will be a disaster for the people of Liverpool Wavertree and the wider country’. Other members

Soubry: ‘This will be the biggest mistake our country has ever made. The young will never forgive my party.’

Compatibility: 10/10

Economy:

Unfortunately when it comes to the economy, Soubry tends to take a different view to the rest of the Tiggers. While her new stablemates often vote in favour of spending public money, Soubry almost always votes against. What’s more, Soubry votes against higher taxes, while the Tiggers typically vote in favour.

The TIG view: Ann Coffey has voted 12 times against reducing housing benefit between 2012-2018 and 38 times against reducing spending on benefits between 2014-2016.

Soubry: Soubry on the other hand has voted 15 times in favour of reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms between 2012-2018. She also voted 51 times against reducing spending on benefits between 2014-2016.

Mr S. thinks Chris Leslie, the Tigger in charge of the economy, is going to have fun trying to make Soubry feel at home.

Compatibility: 0/10

By-elections:

TIG and Soubry appear to be aligned when it comes to by-elections too, which is a pity for those among their constituents who might want a say on their decision to quit their parties.

The TIG view: Heidi Allen spoke on behalf of the TIGers and said “we are not ready” for by-elections. “The last thing the country needs right now is a general election or any kind of by-election.”

Soubry: Soubry has kept a low profile on this topic but she hasn’t exactly been campaigning for a by-election. Mr S thinks Soubry will feel right at home among the TIGgers…

Compatibility: 9/10

Austerity:

There was an awkward moment at the press conference where Soubry announced she was joining the TIGgers when the coalition was mentioned. Mr Steerpike’s research perhaps explains why things were a little tense.

The TIG view: Chuka’s open letter to George Osborne in 2010 on austerity wasn’t very favourable…’Quite how pushing those already struggling to find work out of their homes and into the arms of loan sharks will “encourage” them escapes me” Ouch..

Soubry: The former Tory MP has a slightly different tone when it comes to austerity: “I personally think George did a great job. I’m a big fan of George Osborne’s and the Coalition government did a marvellous job”. On Question Time shortly after the 2016 referendum she again defended Osborne, telling the audience:

“We are in immediate economic shock. That’s why I can tell you where the Chancellor is – the Chancellor is sitting, working out, making the phone calls and putting the stability back in.”

Compatibility: 2/10

Education: 

Education, education, education. Blair ran on it. It’s an important policy area. But it could be where the TIGgers come unstuck:

The TIG view: Chuka has consistently voted against tuition fees and against the hike to £9,000. He has also voted against academy schools. Berger, too, has voted against tuition fees five times.

Soubry: The anti-Brexit MP has voted consistently in favour of university tuition fees. She also backed the hike in the tuition fee cap up to £9,000 a year. Her voting record indicates she is in favour of academy schools, voting 11 times for them between 2010-2016.

Compatibility: 0/10

Mr S. wishes the TIGgers luck when it comes to working out their policies…


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