Bury South MP Christian Wakeford defects from Conservatives to Labour
Report by Granada Reports Correspondent Elaine Willcox
Bury South MP Christian Wakeford has defected from the Conservatives to Labour.
In a statement he said, "You [Boris Johnson] and the Conservative Party as a whole have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves".
Mr Wakeford, won Bury South, which had elected a Labour MP at every election since 1997, in 2019 with a majority of 402.
But, following the 'partygate' scandal engulfing 10 Downing Street, became the seventh MP to send in a letter of no confidence on Tuesday 18 January.
The MP said his defection to Labour took "a lot of soul searching" over many months, starting with the free school meals debacle and ending with partygate.
He said: "This isn't a matter of just deciding this morning, I want to be a Labour MP, this has been many months in the build up.
"Whether it goes back to the issues over free school meals, over Dominic Cummings, over personal credit, the cost of living crisis, the Owen Paterson affair, or now patygate, there's been a lot of build up to this and a lot of soul searching that's taken many sleepless nights.
"But it is ultimately the right decision. I hope my former colleagues, certainly if they don't agree, they can certainly understand."
His move was announced just minutes before a session of Prime Minister's Questions, with the timing calculated to cause maximum damage to Mr Johnson.
The moment Christian Wakeford joined Labour benches ahead of Prime Minister's Questions
In his resignation letter to prime minister Boris Johnson he said, "I have concluded that the policies of the Conservative government that you lead are doing nothing to help the people of my constituency and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse."
Welcoming his new MP, Labour leader Keir Starmer said he was delighted Mr Wakeford had crossed the Commons.
He said: "I would like to welcome Christian Wakeford to the Labour Party. He has always put the people of Bury South first."
Meeting him after PMQs, the Labour leader said had had "done the right thing" by defecting from the Conservatives to join Labour.
But the move has been met with criticism from Young Labour, who cited his voting record and said he "should not be admitted to the Labour Party."
In a statement Mr Starmer added: "As Christian said, the policies of the Conservative government are doing nothing to help the people of Bury South and indeed are only making the struggles they face on a daily basis worse.
Granada Reports Political Correspondent Lise McNally on the MP's defection to Labour
"People across Britain faces a cost of living crisis but this incompetent Tory government is asleep at the wheel, distracted by a chaos of its own making.
"Meanwhile families, businesses and pensioners are suffering from the Conservative failure to tackle rising food, fuel and energy prices.
"Labour are the only ones who have put forward a plan to help people through the Tory cost of living crisis.
"I’m determined to build a new Britain which guarantees security, prosperity and respect for all and I’m delighted that Christian has decided to join us in this endeavour."
In response to the defection, Mr Johnson, during Prime Minister's Questions said: "As for Bury South, let me say to the Right Honourable Gentleman, that the Conservative Party won Bury South for the first time in generations under this Prime Minister with an agenda of uniting and levelling up and delivering for the people of Bury South.
"We will win again in Bury South at the next election under this Prime Minister."