• Thursday, July 25, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Tory MP Poulter defects to Labour in fresh blow for Sunak

Poulter is the second Tory lawmaker to defect to Labour since the last election, after Christian Wakeford

Former prime minister Rishi Sunak rang up Tory MPs who lost their seats at the general election and offered his apology.

By: Pramod Thomas

TORY MP Dan Poulter has defected from the ruling party to the opposition Labour party, in a blow to prime minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a set of local elections that could put further pressure on his leadership.

Sunak’s Tories are trailing Labour by around 20 points in opinion polls ahead of a national election expected this year, and the timing of the defection appeared designed to damage the government further ahead of Thursday’s (2) local votes.

Poulter said the government’s record on the state-run NHS – one of Sunak’s five priorities for the country – meant he could no longer represent the Tories.

“It is abundantly clear to me that the Labour party alone has the will and the trust to restore and reform the NHS. That’s why we need a Labour government,” Poulter said in an article in the Observer newspaper, adding he would stand down at the coming election.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was “fantastic” to welcome Poulter to the party.

“Across the country more and more people are switching to Labour because they know only this changed Labour Party can deliver the change Britain needs,” he said in a statement.

Poulter is the second Tory lawmaker to defect to Labour since the last election, after Christian Wakeford switched in 2022 over former prime minister Boris Johnson’s conduct around rule-breaking parties during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Sunak has faced a tough time trying to recover Tory fortunes after the premierships of Johnson and Liz Truss tanked the party’s poll ratings, and has blamed strike action by doctors and other health workers for throwing his pledge to cut hospital waiting lists off track.

But Poulter said the government had put ideology ahead of pragmatism in dealing with the industrial disputes, leaving patients to bear the brunt.

A spokesperson for the Tories said Poulter’s defection would be “disappointing news” for his constituents, adding the government had increased funding for the NHS.

“What Dan says is wrong as Sir Keir Starmer has no plan for our NHS,” the spokesperson said.

(Reuters)

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