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Defection, Dejection, Election

10 May 2024
| by Field Team

Natalie Elphicke's defection to Labour topped off a dismal week for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

PMQs was always going to be a rough ride for Rishi Sunak this week. Following the disastrous Local Election results where Sunak lost hundreds of councillors, one of the most celebrated Tory Mayors in Andy Street and failed to take the capital, he was braced for the worst. However, what caught the Conservative benches off guard was the unexpected move by Dover's MP, Natalie Elphicke, to cross the floor in a jaw dropping move to Labour. 

This was of course welcomed by Sir Keir Starmer as a further endorsement of his position on the small boats as well as giving further gusto to his point on leading a ‘new and reformed’ Labour Party. But not all of his party colleagues share his enthusiasm to their newest recruit. Although Ms Elphicke is standing down at the next election, Labour MPs were surprised that she had been welcomed so keenly given her previous statements where she had called for stronger action to stop the boats, defended her husband who was a convicted sex offender, and criticised Keir Starmer, or Sir Softie as she had dubbed him, on multiple occasions. Sir Keir, not one to waste an opportunity, quickly took the initiative and used the defection to his advantage by launching a new illegal migration policy in Dover. On the other side of the benches, Conservative MPs were equally confused as to why a former colleague, who was largely seen to be on the right of the party, would find a home Sir Keir’s Labour Party.

However unusual the move, the dramatic crossing of the floor of an MP in such a symbolic constituency was manna from heaven for Keir Starmer and yet another blow for the Prime Minister and his party as they flounder around the 20 pointmark in the polls. On its own, the defection would be news worthy enough. A right-wing Conservative MP finding a new home in the Labour Party. But added to the weeks, and even months of misery that have been piling up for the Prime Minister, this would have been news that he could have really done without. 

The Government will now be hoping that an improving economic picture will start to turn their fortunes around. But luck doesn’t seem to be on the Prime Minister’s side and even on this morning’s media round, the Chancellor of the Exchequer couldn’t escape the never ending questions about which MPs were considering following Natalie Elphicke’s footsteps across the aisle. 

Elphicke may only be the third Conservative MP to cross the floor in the Parliament but even with only months left of this current term before the Prime Minister calls an election, she may well not be the last.

Photo source: The Independent

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