Natalie Elphicke’s past controversies resurface as she defects to Labour

Natalie Elphicke’s past controversies resurface as she defects to Labour

Related video: Natalie Elphicke claims traffic jams in Dover are because of Brussels bureaucracy

House of Commons

It’s been just over a week since Tory MP and doctor Dan Poulter defected to Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party over the Conservatives becoming a “nationalist party of the right”, and now yet another Tory politician has crossed the floor to join the opposition benches.

Natalie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, made the move just before Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, and said in a statement that the Conservatives have “become a byword for incompetence and division”.

“The centre ground has been abandoned and key pledges of the 2019 manifesto have been ditched,” she said.

At the despatch box, Sir Keir commented: “If one week, a Tory MP who’s also a doctor [Poulter] says the prime minister can’t be trusted with the NHS and joins Labour, and the next week, the Tory MP for Dover – on the frontline of the small boats crisis – says the prime minister cannot be trusted with our borders and joins Labour, what is the point of this failed government staggering on?”

Elphicke was elected at the last general election and replaced her then husband Charlie Elphicke, who stood down to fight sexual assault charges in court – charges he denied.

He was found guilty in 2020 of three sexual assaults and jailed for two years.

Since her election, Ms Elphicke has been involved in a number of controversies, including being one of five MPs found to have breached the MPs’ code of conduct by using Commons stationery to write letters to judges overlooking the sentencing appeal of her husband (who she would divorce in 2021).

The Commons Committee on Standards said the letters were “an attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings” and recommended Ms Elphicke face a one-day suspension from the House as a result.

In that same year, she attracted criticism over comments made about England forward Marcus Rashford and his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, in which she wrote to Tory colleagues: “Would it be ungenerous to suggest Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics?”

The remarks were in reference to Rashford’s successful campaigning on free school meals, and despite Ms Elphicke having a second job.

As a Tory Brexiteer, she twice complained in 2022 about queues and traffic jams in her Dover constituency – an issue in which Britain’s departure from the European Union played a part.

Those weren’t her only comments on immigration policy, as she penned a piece for the Mail on Sunday in October 2022 in which she played down the refugee crisis and said the issues at the border were instead an issue of “illegal immigration”, and just last year claimed some migrants “used razor blades to damage and destroy their own fingerprints to avoid identification” when met by Border Force.

And last April, she penned a column for the Express warning readers not to trust Labour on immigration as “they really want open borders”, referring to Sir Keir as “Sir Softie”.

“Sir Softie”, of course, leads the party she’s just joined.

Her past comments and controversies have been pointed out by social media users following her defection, including by members of her former party:

Despite today’s defection, she won’t serve as Dover MP for long, as Labour’s confirmed she’s standing down at the next general election and that former soldier Mike Tapp is the party’s next parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

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