Sunak setback

Elphicke becomes latest Tory to defect to Labour

Natalie Elphicke: Tories are incompetent

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke has become the second to defect to the Labour Party in the last two weeks.

In a statement just ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions the member for Dover said the Tories “have become a byword for incompetence and division”.

Ms Elphicke, who had a majority of 12,278 at the last election, said the key factors for her decision were housing and border security. She accused Rishi Sunak of “broken promises” and abandoning key pledges.

Tory MPs looked aghast as Ms Elphicke crossed the Commons the floor to sit behind Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and in camera shot when he is talking.

Sir Keir welcomed her to the party, asking Mr Sunak “what is the point of this failed government staggering on” when “the Tory MP for Dover on the front line of small boats crisis says the prime minister cannot be trusted with our borders and joins Labour”.

However, her switch has not pleased some in the Labour party who believe that bringing in someone with forthright right wing opinions taints Labour’s position as an alternative to the Conservatives.

In a letter to the Labour leader, the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn asked if the values of Natalie Elphicke were now the Labour party’s values.

He said: “At a time when the public are crying out for change we have the Labour Party taking on an MP who actively campaigned for both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

“When Sir Keir Starmer talks about a changed Labour Party we can see that the face of that change is one of the most right-wing politicians in parliament. It is absolutely grim.”

Stephen Flynn
Stephen Flynn questioned Labour’s acceptance of Ms Elphicke

In her statement, issued at about mid-day, Ms Elphicke said: “Today I announce that I have decided to join the Labour Party and that I will sit in Parliament as a Labour MP.

“When I was elected in 2019, the Conservative Party occupied the centre ground of British politics. The party was about building the future and making the most of the opportunities that lay ahead for our country. 

“Since then, many things have changed. The elected Prime Minister was ousted in a coup led by the unelected Rishi Sunak. Under Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives have become a byword for incompetence and division. The centre ground has been abandoned and key pledges of the 2019 manifesto have been ditched.

“Meanwhile the Labour Party has changed out of all recognition. Since 2019, it has moved on from Jeremy Corbyn and now, under Keir Starmer, occupies the centre ground of British politics. It has accepted Brexit and its economic policies and defence policies are responsible and can be trusted.

“Most significantly for me, the modern Labour Party looks to the future – to building a Britain of hope, optimism, opportunity and fairness. A Britain everyone can be part of.

“I have carefully considered this decision. The change has been dramatic and cannot be ignored. For me key deciding factors have been housing and the safety and security of our borders.

“From small boats to biosecurity, Rishi Sunak’s government is failing to keep our borders safe and secure. Lives are being lost in the English Channel while small boat arrivals are once again at record levels. It’s clear they have failed to keep our borders secure and cannot be trusted.

“On housing, Rishi Sunak’s Government is now failing to build the homes we need. Last year saw the largest fall of new housing starts in England in a single year since the credit crunch. The manifesto committed to 300,000 homes next year – but only around half that number are now set to be built. Renters and leaseholders have been betrayed as manifesto pledges to end no fault evictions and abolish ground rents have not been delivered as promised.

“The last couple of years have also seen a huge rise in homelessness, in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping – with record numbers of children now in temporary accommodation, without a secure roof over their head.

“Meanwhile Labour plan to build the homes we need, help young people onto the housing ladder and care about the vulnerable and homeless. That’s why I’m honoured to have been asked to work with Keir and the team to help deliver the homes we need.

“We need to move on from the broken promises of Rishi Sunak’s tired and chaotic Government. Britain needs a Government that will build a future of hope, optimism, opportunity and fairness. A Britain everyone can be part of, that will make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. That’s why it’s time for change. Time for a Labour Government led by Keir Starmer. The General Election cannot come soon enough.”

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