'It's A Sign Of Real Rot': Laura Kuenssberg Roasts Minister After Tory MP Defects To Labour

Chris Philp hit out at Dan Poulter after he said the Conservatives were now "a nationalist party".

A Tory minister clashed with Laura Kuenssberg this morning in the wake of one of the party’s MPs defecting to Labour.

Chris Philp was told that Dan Poulter’s decision to switch sides just days before Thursday’s local elections was “a sign of real rot” in the Conservatives.

Poulter, a doctor and former health minister, said the Tories no longer saw the NHS as a priority.

The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP also said the Conservatives had become a “nationalist party” in recent years.

On BBC One this morning, Kuenssberg told Philp: “Dan Poulter’s assessment of the Conservative Party is a damning one.

“He says you’ve become a nationalist party, you’ve lost your compassion.

“It’s a sign of real rot, isn’t it, that he’s done this?”

Philp replied: “Well I don’t accept what Dan is saying at all.

“He talked about the NHS as a priority, well the NHS is one of only two departments that was protected during those years of necessary spending restraint after the last Labour government bankrupt the country.”

The minister said the government was spending “record amounts” on the NHS, and that the numbers of doctors and nurses had gone up in the past year.

“That isn’t the sign of a party de-prioritising the NHS, that is the sign of a political party, the Conservatives, investing heavily in our NHS because it is a priority,” he said.

But Kuenssberg said: “With a defection, it’s not just about the statistics and who’s right and who’s wrong on the particular case.

“Doesn’t it betray a wider situation here, that you have a Conservative MP who says ‘enough, I fancy the other party, I have no faith in the other party any more’.

“You have about 70 Conservative MPs who have already said they’re standing down, and isn’t it mirrored by the fact that polls have consistently shown for months voters are walking away from you too?”

She added: “Rishi Sunak has done numerous refreshes, resets, relaunches - nothing seems to be working for you.”

But Philp insisted the polls will narrow as the general election draws nearer.

He said: “Clearly at the moment people do feel grumpy with the government, but as wel get closer to an election it’s not so much a referendum on grumpiness, it becomes a choice [on] who do you want to run the country.

“Confronted with that choice, we will see our poll ratings significantly improve.”


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