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Sunak’s ‘chaotic’ UK government suffers further blow as another Conservative lawmaker defects to Starmer’s Labour Party

WorldSunak’s ‘chaotic’ UK government suffers further blow as another Conservative lawmaker defects to Starmer’s Labour Party


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was accused on Wednesday of leading a “chaotic” government as another one of his Conservative lawmakers defected to the main opposition Labour Party ahead of a looming general election.

In a stunning move just ahead of weekly prime minister’s questions, Natalie Elphicke crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the ranks of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, which appears to be heading for power after 14 years.

“We need to move on from the broken promises of Rishi Sunak’s tired and chaotic government,” said Elphicke, who represents the constituency of Dover, which is at the front-line of migrant crossings from France.

“Under Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives have become a byword for incompetence and division.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer, left, shakes hands with former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office in the House of Commons, London on Wednesday. Photo: AP

The defection of Elphicke is particularly surprising, as she was widely considered to be on the right of the Conservative Party and has been hugely critical of Labour in the past. But she has recently been increasingly disapproving of the government’s approach to migrant crossings.

“From small boats to biosecurity, Rishi Sunak’s government is failing to keep our borders safe and secure,” she said. “Lives are being lost in the English Channel, while small boat arrivals are once again at record levels.”

Sunak has made stopping small boat arrivals one of his main priorities, notably with his controversial plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Elphicke was elected in 2019, taking over the Dover seat that had been held by her then-husband Charlie, who was jailed for two years after being found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women.

Starmer welcomed Elphicke to the Labour benches as well as Chris Webb, the party’s new lawmaker in Blackpool South in northwest England following his big victory in a special election last Thursday.

Elphicke is the second Conservative lawmaker to defect to Labour in two weeks, after Dan Poulter quit in anger over the government’s handling of the National Health Service.

Rishi Sunak was accused of leading a “chaotic” government, as another one of his Conservative lawmakers defected to the main opposition Labour Party. Photo: Reuters

Starmer called on Sunak to call a general election now as he wondered what was the point of “this failed government staggering on” when even the Conservative lawmaker “on the front line of small boats crisis says the prime minister cannot be trusted with our borders and joins Labour?”

Last week, the Conservatives suffered a historic drubbing in local elections, losing nearly half of its candidates, while Labour made gains and won most of the key mayoral races it fought, including in London.

Particularly encouraging for Labour was that it won in areas that voted for Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2016, and where it was crushed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the general election in 2019.

Elphicke’s defection may help Labour in the coming election, as she was a strong supporter of Brexit. In her statement Wednesday, she said Labour “has accepted Brexit and its economic policies.”

In the UK, the date of the general election rests in the hands of the prime minister. It has to take place by January, and Sunak has repeatedly said that his “working assumption” was that it would take place in the second half of 2024.



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