Conservative MP Christian Wakeford has announced that he is defecting to the Labour party.
Wakeford, who represents Bury South, confirmed shortly before Prime Minister’s Questions that he was joining the opposition, telling Boris Johnson in a letter that the Conservative party was ‘doing nothing to help the people of my constituency and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse’.
Wakeford, who was elected in 2019 and has a majority of just 402, has been a vocal critic of Johnson. He becomes the first Conservative MP to defect to the Labour party since 2007, reducing the government’s parliamentary majority to 78.
‘You and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves,’ he told the prime minster.
‘I have wrestled with my conscience for many months… [but] I can no longer support a government that has shown itself consistently out of touch with the hardworking people of Bury South and the country as a whole.’
In a statement, Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed Wakeford to the party, saying ‘he has always put the people of Bury South first.’ At PMQs Wakeford could be seen sat directly behind Starmer as he made his first appearance on the opposition benches.
Responding to Wakeford’s defection, Johnson said ‘the Conservative party won Bury South for the first time in generations under this prime minister. We will win again in Bury South’.
Wakeford is one of around 45 so-called ‘Red Wall’ Conservative MPs who won traditionally Labour constituencies in 2019. New polling has shown all but two of those seats would return to Labour as support for Johnson and the Conservatives collapses in the wake of the ongoing ‘partygate’ scandal.
The news comes as it was reported that ‘dozens’ of Red Wall MPs were planning to submit letters of no confidence in the prime minister as speculation of an imminent leadership challenge mounts.
Elsewhere during PMQs, Conservative MP and former Brexit secretary David Davis dramatically called on Johnson to resign, telling him ‘in the name of God, go.’
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