Tory MP defects to Labour telling Boris Johnson he is ‘incapable of offering leadership’

Politics

Bury South MP Christian Wakeford has this morning defected from the Conservatives to Labour.

Mr Wakeford told Boris Johnson that “you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed Mr Wakeford’s defection saying: “I would like to welcome Christian Wakeford to the Labour Party. He has always put the people of Bury South first.

“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.”

A Conservative MP told Sky News the Tory chief whip “hauled” Mr Wakeford in last night “and it sent him over the edge when they threatened his seat” with having its boundary changed.

“This is what bully tactics look like,” the MP said.

Follow PMQs live as MP defects to Labour

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Christian Wakeford MP. Pic: UK Parliament
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Christian Wakeford is now a Labour MP. Pic: UK Parliament

PMQs kicks off moments after MP defects

The former Conservative MP announced his defection moments before Mr Johnson faced MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions and was seen sitting on the opposition benches.

Sir Keir kicked off PMQs by welcoming Mr Wakeford to the Labour Party and said he was happy to welcome any other MPs who wanted to defect.

Mr Wakeford was seen on the Labour benches wearing a Union flag facemask.

The PM did address his defection, telling MPs the Conservatives won Bury South for the first time in generations under him and pledged – to very loud jeers (from Labour) and cheers (from Tory MPs): “We will win again at the next election under this prime minister.”

Mr Wakeford’s defection comes a day after the PM said “nobody told me” attending a Downing Street garden party during the May 2020 lockdown was breaking COVID rules.

Mr Johnson faced calls for his resignation from Sir Keir and multiple opposition MPs over “partygate” but the PM kept telling them they needed to wait for the investigation by Sue Gray to finish.

He said it was coming “next week”.

Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson was fighting for his premiership at PMQs

Pressure on Mr Johnson’s leadership started ramping up this morning after around 12 more letters of no confidence were submitted to Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Sky News political correspondents were told.

They were from MPs who were part of a group of around 20 first voted in at the 2019 general election, many in traditionally “red wall” Labour seats in the North.

The mutiny by the 2019 intake of Conservative MPs, following a meeting of about 20 last night, has been branded the “pork pie plot” as one of the MPs is Alicia Kearns, the MP for Rutland and Melton, home of the Melton Mowbray pork pie.

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