Tory veteran Ken Clarke has said MPs from his party are "very fed up" and could contemplate defecting to the newly formed Independent Group.
Clarke, a pro-EU MPs, told the BBC this morning: "Certainly some members of parliament are getting very fed up. There are some, I think – not including me – who probably are contemplating leaving if the party moves too far to the right and no longer represents what they regard as the mainstream Conservative views they have held for all the previous years. I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope it doesn’t come to that."
The MPs thought to be mulling a breakaway from the party are Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Nick Boles, who have grown frustrated at the government's handling of the Brexit negotiations and the power the Eurosceptic European Research Group has over the party.
Westminster is now awash with speculation that more defections from the Tory and Labour parties could be announced either before of after prime minister's questions this afternoon.
The timing of the potential defections will create a new headache for Theresa May, who is heading to Brussels for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker over negotiations to the Irish backstop. Juncker has repeatedly said the backstop, which would keep the UK in a customs union to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland, is not up for renegotiation.
But the rumblings of more splitters will bolster members of the Independent Group, made up of the original "gang of seven" Labour MPs who resigned over divisions within the Labour party over Brexit and anti-semitism.
Last night Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey were joined by Jewish MP Joan Ryan, who announced she had left the Labour party over the leadership allowing "Jews to be abused with impunity".
Members of the Independent Group are now facing calls to trigger by-elections in their respective constituencies. Ryan told the BBC this morning that she would not run through a by-election, saying she won her seat in 2017 "in spite of [Mr Corbyn], not because of him".