Analysis: No amount of spin can hide a Tory MP defecting to Labour being good news for Sir Keir Starmer

Christian Wakeford has defected from the Conservatives to the Labour Party in yet another twist to the absurd drama that is British politics.

The Bury South MP crossed the floor, becoming the first MP to go between the parties since Quentin Davies left the opposition Conservative Party to the governing Labour Party in June 2007.

His move on Wednesday sparked mass celebration in Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer now seemingly able to take Tory seats without even needing a by-election.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with Bury South MP Christian Wakeford, who has defected from the Conservatives to Labour

Not everyone on the left was so happy, with both Momentum and Young Labour calling out the leadership and demanding a U-turn, which would hold more weight if it wasn’t how they responded to literally everything.

There have also been the questions as to why a Tory can join, but former party leader Jeremy Corbyn not be readmitted.

But a Labour gain is obviously good. The party has a new seat and a strong narrative of Mr Johnson’s Government being so toxic its own MPs are choosing to leave.

A former ‘Red Wall’ MP going Labour may upset some internally, but Sir Keir has shown repeatedly his party is finally focusing on the public rather than itself.

Mr Wakeford’s new-found freedom has also enabled him to speak freely, claiming he was told a high school in his constituency would not get built if he did not vote in a certain way.

Having been on the inside, his claims are not simply Labour point scoring, but rather strong evidence of a Government using financial threats to enforce discipline.

That’s not to say there aren’t issues with the move, most notably his voting record.

Mr Wakeford has sided with the Government on issues across Universal Credit, immigration and Brexit.

There will be claims it slows the coup against the Prime Minister or makes Labour look open to anyone, but that’s kind of the point.

The Bury South MP felt those things, but has been convinced by Labour, or at least pushed away by Mr Johnson.

Sir Keir’s challenge will be making sure he’s the first of many from the Red Wall to do the same.


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