Conservative MP defects to Labour in fresh blow to Sunak

Mark Logan, who represented Bolton North East until parliament was dissolved, said the Tory party was ‘now unrecognisable’ from the one he joined

Rishi Sunak has been dealt a fresh blow from within his own ranks after another outgoing Conservative MP said he is now backing Labour.

Mark Logan, who represented Bolton North East until parliament was dissolved, said the Tory party was “now unrecognisable” from the one he joined a decade ago and that Labour could “bring back optimism into British life”.

The development capped a difficult day for Mr Sunak, who said he had been fined by police over Partygate, there because he went to a meeting early.

Although Mr Logan is stepping down, the move is in effect another defection to Labour. Natalie Elphicke and Dan Poulter crossed the floor this year, while Christian Wakeford defected in 2022. The outgoing Tory MP for Telford Lucy Allan, said this week that she is backing Reform.

READ MORE

Mr Logan, a Brexit supporter who represented one of the most marginal constituencies in the UK after winning with a majority of just 378 votes in 2019, told the BBC that he was applying to join Labour and wouldn’t rule out standing in future.

“When I look back to my teenage years, in 1997 when Labour came to the fore at that time and we obviously heard the song Things Can Only Get Better, I feel that we’re at that point again in British politics and British history,” he said, comparing the present juncture to Tony Blair’s landslide victory.

Earlier, Mr Sunak faced his most hostile question of the general election campaign so far as he addressed workers at Niftylift, a cherrypicker manufacturer near Milton Keynes.

Nick Fox, a 35-year-old environment, health and safety officer, told Mr Sunak he lost his mother in 2020, a month after the then-chancellor attended Boris Johnson’s birthday celebration in No 10. “How can anyone trust you or the party after things like this?” Mr Fox asked.

Mr Sunak has previously issued an “unreserved apology” for attending the birthday celebration when he was fined by police in 2022.

But pressed on the event, he appeared to downplay the reasons he had been fined. “I’m really sorry that you lost your mum and particularly in those circumstances, because it wasn’t easy for so many people during the pandemic, the impact it had on everyone’s life,” he said.

“And I can’t imagine what it must have been for you not to be able to be with her at that time. It’s really tough.

“And I’m sorry for what was going on in Downing Street. And for my part, I apologise that I showed up to a meeting earlier.”

He went on to highlight his work implementing the furlough scheme during the pandemic.

Mr Fox later told the PA Media news agency he was unconvinced by the prime minister’s answer.

“He talked about hard times and this kind of thing. They haven’t tightened their belts. They gave a load of contracts to their mates and this kind of thing,” he said.

“His apology isn’t accepted. I wasn’t looking for an apology either.”

He said he was “not really that surprised” when he found out about parties in Downing Street around the same time his mother, Christine Fox, died aged 66.

“I think we all knew things like that were going to happen. It was going to be one rule for us and another rule for them.”

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, said: “Rishi Sunak will go down in history as the Partygate chancellor.

“People up and down the country won’t forget Sunak’s involvement in Boris Johnson’s lying and lawbreaking government.” – Guardian