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Politics latest news: Lord Kinnock leads backlash against Starmer over Tory defection



Lord Kinnock has led a backlash against Sir Keir Starmer following Natalie Elphicke’s defection to Labour from the Conservative Party. 

Ms Elphicke, the MP for Dover, stunned Westminster at lunchtime as she crossed the floor immediately before Prime Minister’s Questions and blamed Rishi Sunak for having “abandoned the centre ground”. 

Speaking to Ben Riley-Smith, The Telegraph’s Political Editor, for BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster, Lord Kinnock said: “The first question is how will she fare and how will she show commitment to her constituency over the remaining months to the general election. That’s up to her and up to them to reflect.

“As far the party is concerned more generally, I think we have got to be choosy to a degree about who we allow to join our party because it’s a very broad church but churches have walls and there are limits.

“Ms Elphicke has got to decide whether she is committed to the programme and principles of the Labour Party, broadly defined, generously defined with great liberal intentions, but we are a political party and not a debating club.”

The move was also poorly received by some Labour MPs, with one telling The Telegraph it was a “f—— joke” and had “gone down like a cup of hot sick”, while another Labour backbencher said accepting Right-wing Tory defectors was “not sustainable”.

John McDonnell, a former shadow chancellor, told LBC Radio the defection “would have strained the generosity of spirit of John the Baptist”.

Meanwhile, the defection was condemned by Momentum, a campaign group on the Labour left, which claimed it showed Sir Keir had moved the party too far to the right.

A spokesman for the group said: “Natalie Elphicke has consistently demonised refugees and aid groups. She voted against Labour proposals to outlaw fire and rehire, while supporting a wide array of destructive and damaging Tory legislation. 

“She should have no place in a Labour Party committed to progressive values and working-class people.” 

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