IT HAS been an historic week in British politics after eight Labour and three Conservative MPs left their parties to form the new Independent Group in Parliament.

This is already the biggest party split since the Social Democratic Party was formed in 1981 and there could be further resignations around Westminster in the coming days as momentum builds behind this new centrist group.

West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin said: “Although I understand the motivation of those who have formed this new group from both sides of the Commons, my own view is that sensible and moderate people in both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are better advised to remain in order to prevent their parties being taken over by those with more divisive views. That is certainly what I shall be doing in the Conservative Party.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax would not be drawn on his opinion on the party splits.

He said: “All I would say is that it is my job to get on with delivering the will of the British people which is to get us out of the EU, ideally with a deal. That’s the quest I have been tasked with."

West Dorset Labour Party said it is "appalled and disgusted" by the eight former Labour MPs who have rejected the party, stating that they had "betrayed their pledge and their voters."

Chairman Mark Gage said: "We believe that the MPs should uphold democratic principles and stand down from Parliament and put their views to the voters."

The group added: "The Labour Party is a broad church, in which a diverse range of views participate and are welcome. As the objective is to form a government implementing a Labour agenda, the party inevitably has to unite around its agreed policies and the leadership it has elected. Under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership the party's priority is to end Tory austerity and improve people's lives."

Former South Dorset MP Lord Knight said: "I think that the 11 MPs who have gone off to form this new group, it's not an easy decision for them to make. It is a sign of how both parties have moved away from the centre of British politics and that there is an appetite for a viable option for those people more centrist in their thinking than those views.

"I am still a member of the Labour Party so my main objective is solving the problem that is Brexit. They feel that they don't have a place in the parties that they are from."