Tory MP says BNP suits Natalie Elphicke better than Labour

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Tory MP says BNP suits Natalie Elphicke better than Labour

Keir Starmer faced a backlash from his own MPs after Natalie Elphicke defected to Labor (Alamy)

3 minutes reading

Conservative MP Mark Garnier has said he would have understood Natalie Elphicke’s decision to leave his party better if she had opted for ‘Reform or the BNP’ rather than Labour.

Elphicke, the MP for Dover, defected from the Conservatives to Labor on Wednesday, arguing the ruling party had “become a byword for incompetence and division” while she believed Keir Starmer’s party had “changed beyond recognition” since taking leadership from Jeremy. Corbyn, who resigned in 2020.

The move surprised MPs on both sides of the House of Commons as Elphicke, a former member of the Tory Common Sense Group, is known to be from the party’s further right wing and holds hardline views on immigration. She had previously accused Labor of advocating “open borders”.

Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest, said PoliticsHome podcast The rundown that it was “completely surreal” to see Elphicke make a surprise appearance on the Labor benches on Wednesday ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions, and found her decision “very, very strange” given she was one of the “most right-wing” of the Tories . politicians”.

“If she had gone to Reform or the BNP we would have somewhat understood, but it was very, very strange,” he added.

The former trade secretary said he could not think of any other Tories he thought would have been less likely to have defected to Labour.

Starmer’s admission of Elphicke sparked a backlash among Labor MPs, one of whom admitted as much PoliticsHome that they felt uneasy about the former Tory joining them.

See also  MP Natalie Elphicke defects to Labor from Tories

Former shadow minister Jess Phillips said seeing Elphicke at her party “felt a bit like being punched in the gut”, citing her previous support for her ex-husband Charlie Elphicke after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting two women.

Elphicke had previously described her husband’s conviction as a “terrible miscarriage of justice”, but apologized for the comments on Thursday. ‘The period 2017-2020 was incredibly stressful and difficult for me as I learned more about the person I thought I knew. ” she said in a statement.

“I know it was much harder for the women who had to relive their experiences and testify against him.”

But Christabel Cooper, research director at campaign group LabourTogether, believed the defections were ultimately more damaging to the government. “Ultimately you just have to see this as a huge shame for Rishi Sunak,” she said PoliticsHome.

Elphicke’s move marks the Conservatives’ second defection to Labor in the space of two weeks. Last month, Dan Poulter, the MP for Central Suffolk and an NHS doctor, left the Tories for Starmer’s party over the state of the health service.

Cooper said the situation showed the Conservatives “will go into the next election with a Prime Minister who really doesn’t seem to be in control of his own party”.

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