A Tory MP has defected to the Labour Party – just as Boris Johnson left No 10 for PMQs.
Christian Wakeford was welcomed by Labour leader Keir Starmer.
“I would like to welcome Christian Wakeford to the Labour Party. He has always put the people of Bury South first,” Starmer said.
Laura Kuenssberg said a defection right before the prime minister is set to appear in front of the public is “as tricky as it gets”.
Wakeford is one of the seven MPs known to the public to have submitted a letter of no confidence in Johnson.
Wakeford has represented Bury South since the 2019 general election, winning a majority of only 402.
Christian Wakeford’s letter of resignation to Boris Johnson
In his letter of resignation, Wakeford said he has ‘reached the conclusion that the best interests of his constituents are served by the programme put forward by Keir Starmer and his party’.
He told Boris Johnson: “I have concluded that the policies of the Conservative government that you lead are doing nothing to help the people of my constituency and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse.
“Britain needs a government focused on tackling the cost of living crisis and providing a path out of the pandemic that protects living standards and defends the security of all.
“It needs a government that upholds the highest standards of integrity and probity in public life and sadly both you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves.”
Keir Starmer welcomes the Bury Tory MP to Labour
In the light of Wakeford’s defection, Starmer said: “As Christian said, the policies of the Conservative government are doing nothing to help the people of Bury South and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse.
“People across Britain face a cost of living crisis but this incompetent Tory government is asleep at the wheel, distracted by a chaos of its own making.
“Meanwhile, families, businesses and pensioners are suffering from the Conservative failure to tackle rising food, fuel and energy prices.”
He added: “Labour are the only ones who have put forward a plan to help people through the Tory cost of living crisis.
“I’m determined to build a new Britain which guarantees security, prosperity and respect for all and I’m delighted that Christian has decided to join us in this endeavour.”
Criticism of Labour welcoming Wakeford
Criticism is already mounting towards Starmer’s decision to welcome Wakeford.
Young Labour was among those expressing outrage at the news, saying they ‘do not welcome him’.
“Christian Wakeford MP should not be admitted to the Labour Party. He has consistently voted against the interests of working-class people; for the £20 universal credit cut, for the Nationality and Borders Bill and for the Police and Crime Bill,” the group said.
Momentum, a left-wing movement supportive of the Labour Party, hit out at Keir Starmer welcoming Wakeford to the party, saying the Tory MP “consistently voted against” measures to prevent climate change, reduce tax avoidance and in favour of a stricter asylum system. “The list goes on,” the group said.
Last February, Wakeford defended claims that the Tories endorsed a decade of austerity, arguing “income inequality is down”.
Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media, asked: “Is that now the view of the Labour Party too?”
At the time, Wakeford said: “It is a privilege to follow Olivia Blake if only to highlight how she is wrong about 10 years of Conservative management of the economy.”
“Let us not forget that, in 2010 and in 2015, Labour, too, was campaigning on a platform of tackling the deficit and delivering its own austerity, so I guess that all cuts are bad unless they are Labour cuts.”