A FORMER Tory minister who served under Theresa May’s premiership has quit the Conservatives and slammed the party for being overcome by “ideology and self-obsession” and refusing to co-operate with European neighbours.

Claire Perry O’Neill, an MP between 2010 and 2019 who was COP26 president before being sacked and replaced by Alok Sharma, revealed on Monday that she quit her former party earlier this month.

Writing in The Times, the former MP said: “As much as I like and admire the prime minister and chancellor, they are too beholden to a party dominated now by ideology and self-obsession to deliver the big changes we need in a fact-based, competent way.

“I spend most of my time now working in the private sector and this is not the way to build back confidence and deliver investment — especially in the crucial energy sector.”

READ MORE: Claire O’Neill tells of sadness at losing climate talks presidency

O’Neill added that since Brexit, attitudes have changed among Conservatives.

“My former party’s often cavalier approach to business and academia coupled with a post-Brexit reluctance to strategically engage with our European neighbours has damaged our ability to deliver the energy system we need.”

The former minister took the opportunity to applaud the work of Keir Starmer, saying his proposals on green technology and a low-carbon wealth fund look “exciting”.

She went on: “Building a low-carbon, secure, affordable energy system for the UK is an immense challenge that needs sober, fact-driven, competent political leadership. I sense that is exactly what we will get should Labour win the next General Election.”

Several Tory figures have found it easy to swap their support over to Labour under Starmer’s leadership, with Christian Wakeford the first MP to officially defect last year.

The National:

Elsewhere, multimillionaire Gareth Quarry – who gave tens of thousands to the Conservatives under May and David Cameron’s leadership – has gifted £100,000 to Starmer’s party and could be set to provide even more.

The main criticism of Labour from the SNP over the past year has been the party's similarity to and willingness to work with the Tories.

Despite promising no coalitions after May's council election, Labour entered deals with the Tories in a number of council areas

Speaking at the end of 2022, depute SNP leader Keith Brown said:  “Labour have ... signed themselves up as a fully-fledged pro-Brexit party, with Keir Starmer claiming there is ‘no case’ for rejoining the EU – a market seven times the size of the UK.

“That is despite the mountains of evidence that Brexit is hammering the Scottish economy every day.

“2023 looks like we will get more of the same from the Tories and the pro-Brexit Labour Party."