Party defections which have taken place during the current Parliament

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke has defected to Labour, hitting out at the “broken promises of Rishi Sunak’s tired and chaotic Government”.

She crossed the floor in the Commons just moments before Prime Minister’s Questions.

Here, the PA News Agency looks at all of the defections to have taken place under the current Parliament.

Natalie Elphicke – Conservative to Labour

The Dover MP said the key deciding factor for her changing sides was “housing and the safety and security of our borders”.

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

Ms Elphicke was elected as Dover’s Conservative MP in 2019, taking over the seat which had been held by her disgraced, then-husband Charlie, who was jailed for two years after being found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women.

Dan Poulter – Conservative to Labour

Dr Dan Poulter, a working mental health doctor, quit Rishi Sunak’s party in April saying it is “failing” the health service and that he could no longer “look my NHS colleagues in the eye” as a Conservative.

He will take the Labour whip until the general election but will not be running again as the MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, he wrote in The Observer.

Dr Poulter told the newspaper the Conservative Party “feels like it has become a nationalist party of the right”, having seen a “rightward drift” since David Cameron left Downing Street in 2016.

Lee Anderson – Conservative to independent then Reform UK

The Ashfield MP defected to the Nigel Farage-linked party in March after he was stripped of the Tory whip over comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Lee Anderson defection
Lee Anderson MP in Sutton (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Anderson accused the Conservative Party of stifling “free speech” by suspending him amid the Islamophobia row.

In an open attack on the party that had formerly elevated him to deputy chairman, he claimed other Tory MPs share his views but will not stick their heads “above the parapet”.

Lisa Cameron – SNP to Conservative

The East Kilbride MP’s change of party in October 2023 came on the day she was facing a selection battle to be the candidate in the west of Scotland seat of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.

The Scottish Daily Mail reported she had complained of “toxic and bullying” treatment within the SNP.

The MP, who is also a doctor, said she has received support from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after her mental wellbeing deteriorated in recent weeks, but has had no contact from the SNP leadership.

Andrew Bridgen – Conservative to independent to Reclaim Party to independent again

Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party lost its only MP in December 2023 after Andrew Bridgen quit the group over a “difference in direction”.

The North West Leicestershire MP said it had been an “incredibly difficult decision” and insisted he still supported the “policies and values” of Reclaim.

Mr Bridgen was expelled from the Conservative Party over a social media post in which he described Covid-19 vaccinations as “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”.

Christian Wakeford – Conservative to Labour

The Red Wall MP said the UK needed a government that “upholds the highest standards of integrity and probity” when he crossed the floor in January 2022.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 19, 2022
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with Bury South MP Christian Wakeford (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Bury South MP told the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, “both you and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

He said: “Britain needs a government focused on tackling the cost-of-living crisis and providing a path out of the pandemic that protects living standards and defends the security of all.”

His move was announced just minutes before a session of Prime Minister’s Questions, with the timing calculated to cause maximum damage.