Keir Starmer Defends Labour Accepting Tory Defector Natalie Elphicke

Labour leader says politics should be less "tribal" and welcomes "very significant" move.
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

Keir Starmer has defended welcoming former Tory MP Natalie Elphicke into the Labour Party, arguing politics should be less “tribal”.

Elphicke, the MP for Dover, shocked Westminster when she sensationally defected to Labour on Wednesday.

Her decision to cross the floor at the start of PMQs was another blow to Rishi Sunak in the wake of the local election results.

But Starmer has also come under pressure from within Labour over the move, given Elphicke’s right-wing views on immigration.

She also previously supported her ex-husband despite him being found guilty of sexually assaulting two women.

Speaking in Dover to announce Labour’s new immigration policy, Starmer said the defection was “testament to the hard work” the party had done to change since Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

“This changed Labour Party ought to be a place where reasonably minded people whichever way they voted in the past, feel that they can join with our project and change the country for the better,” he said.

“It is an invitation that we should be less tribal, in the pursuit to invite people to our party who want to join in our project of national renewal.

“I’m very pleased to be able to extend that invitation not just to Labour voters, but people who voted for other parties in the past.”

Starmer added the defection was “very significant” as it showed Sunak’s government was on its “last legs”.

Labour MP Jess Philips, a former shadow domestic violence minister, told Sky News Elphicke’s admission to Labour was “a bit like being punched in the gut”.

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock told the BBC that Labour should be “choosy to a degree about who we allow to join” as while it is a “very broad church” churches “have walls and there are limits”.

Elphicke’s defection was particularly stinging for Sunak, given he has made stopping small boat crossings from France to Kent central to his election campaign.

She accused the prime minister of “failing to keep our borders safe” and of “incompetence and division”.

Two MPs elected as Tories in 2019 - Christian Wakeford and Dan Poulter - have already crossed the floor in this parliament.

HuffPost UK revealed on Sunday that two Tory MPs were in talks about defecting before the general election.


What's Hot