One of the 2019 intake of Tory MPs defected to Labour on Wednesday immediately prior to PMQs. Christian Wakeford (pictured above) took up a seat on the opposition benches as Keir Starmer smugly welcomed his new MP. Wakeford submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM last week. He wrote directly to the PM on Wednesday highlighting his supposed reasons for the defection (see below).
There are a number of issues to unpick with Wakeford's resignation, not least the timing of it. The 37-year-old has been an elected councillor for the Conservatives since 2013, on both Lancashire County Council and Pendle Borough Council. After his election in 2019, he continued to claim allowances for both roles, on top of his £81,932 salary as an MP. There certainly appears to be a history of greed with this largely unknown entity and we might therefore suggest that, as opposed to 'putting his constituents first', Mr Wakeford is actually putting himself and his position on the gravy train first.
Wakeford has a tiny majority of just 402 in Bury South, having overturned a 5,965 majority in 2019. The incumbent MP had resigned from Labour a year earlier and stood as an independent, but had tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his candidacy at the last minute and called on voters to back the Tory candidate. He still managed to receive 1,366 votes, which was potentially crucial in delivering victory to Wakeford. All this, combined with the Tory poll slump, has clearly been weighing on Wakeford's mind. If Johnson clings on as PM, most red wall seats will almost certainly be returned to Labour at the next election. So why resign now, when the PM's downfall is imminent?
It probably wasn't an easy call to make for Wakeford, but if not now, then when? A new Prime Minister with a fresh slate would not offer a viable motive to resign. Now is probably the only moment he could have done so with a seemingly principled reason.
With any luck, Johnson's replacement will provide the conservative agenda that the electorate voted for and consign Wakeford and his new colours to the dustbin at the next election. Wakeford, like Johnson, was clearly never a true conservative anyway. If he were, then he would have stayed on and rallied around a conservative successor. Instead, he swapped Johnson's blue socialists for Starmer's red socialists, two groups currently indisdinguishble with their shared vision of high taxation, high migration, climate hysteria and nanny state authoritarianism. Someone who makes that switch on the eve of a potential new beginning for his party does not do so in the 'best interests of his constituents'.
Bury South 2019 general election
Christian Wakeford (Con) 22,034 (43.8%) +2.2%
Lucy Burke (Lab) 21,632 (43.0%) -10.3%
Richard Kilpatrick (LDem) 2,315 (4.6%) +2.5%
Andrea Livesey (Brexit) 1,672 (3.3%) New
Ivan Lewis (Ind) 1,366 (2.7%) New
Glyn Heath (Grn) 848 (1.7%) New
Michael Boyle (Ind) 277 (0.6%) New
Gemma Evans (Women) 130 (0.3%) New