Tory MP defects to Labour: Dr Dan Poulter’s letter in full

Dr Dan Poulter Credit: PA

A Tory MP and former health minister has defected to Labour in protest against the Conservative's “rightward drift” and neglect of the NHS, in a blow to the prime minister.

Dr Dan Poulter, a working medic, has quit Rishi Sunak’s party 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.

Here is Dr Dan Poulter’s letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in full:

Dear Rishi,

I am writing to let you know that, after deep reflection and much heart-searching, I have decided, in all professional conscience, that I can no longer continue as a member of the Conservative Party. I have therefore today resigned my membership of the Party and will not be standing for re-election at the General Election.

As you know, alongside my work as an MP for the past 14 years, I have always worked as an NHS hospital doctor. Throughout the ongoing junior doctors strike, I have spent more than twenty night-shifts, over the last year or so, working as a mental health doctor in a busy Hospital A&E Department. It has been a truly life changing experience. Working on the front line of a health service under impossible strain has left me, at times, struggling to look my NHS colleagues, my patients and my constituents in the eye.

It is this that has led me to resign from the Conservative Party to focus on my work as a doctor and, at the same time, I will be supporting the Labour Party to deliver a better NHS. Regrettably, I have come to the conclusion that only the Labour Party has the trust and the will to restore a failing health service which is currently unable to deliver the care patients need and deserve.

Naturally, I shall continue, as diligently as I always have done, to serve my constituents until the next election, although in the interim I will not be sitting on the Government benches in the House of Commons.

I would respectfully ask and urge that you call a General Election as soon as you feel able.

In leaving the Conservative Party at this juncture, I wish you personally all the very best for the future, and hope that you will understand the reasons for my decision.

Yours sincerely,


In response, a Tory Party spokesperson said: “For the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich this will be disappointing news. What Dan says is wrong as Sir Keir Starmer has no plan for our NHS.

“Under the Conservatives we are raising NHS funding to a record £165 billion a year, helping it recover from the effects of the pandemic and driving forward its first ever long-term workforce plan so that we train the doctors and nurses we need for the future in our country.

“Thanks to our plan, we have already virtually eliminated the longest waits and overall waiting lists have fallen by 200,000 in the last five months – and we will go further to make sure everyone gets the world-class care they need.

“This stands in stark contrast to the Welsh NHS – run into the ground by the Welsh Labour Government over the last 25 years which has waiting lists and waiting times way beyond what is being delivered in England.”

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