Labour insists no place for Nigel Farage in party after defection of right-wing MP

Nigel Farage would not be accepted into Labour because his values are "completely inimical" to the party, a shadow frontbencher said.

Anneliese Dodds was asked about her party's "red lines" following the shock defection of former Tory MP Natalie Elphicke to the Opposition on Wednesday.

Some Labour figures have expressed concerns about the move, given that the Dover MP has repeatedly attacked Labour over migration and was seen as being on the right of her party.

Ms Dodds told the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge that she had not been contacted by anybody "to say they didn't want that decision to have been taken", following reports Sir Keir Starmer has faced a hostile response.

Asked if Mr Farage would be welcome if he wanted to join Labour, Ms Dodds said: "Nigel Farage is someone who is well outside any kind of Labour values.

"He has proven that time and time and time again."

She said the former Brexit leader and Ms Elphicke are not comparable, as Mr Farage is "someone whose values are completely inimical to the Labour Party".

"I think in what Natalie Elphicke has set out today she's very clearly shown she is very concerned about the issues that both Labour MPs are concerned about and Labour members, and indeed many Labour voters," Ms Dodds said.

"She's very concerned about the impact of that lack of delivery of housing on people up and down our country."

Ms Elphicke quit the Tories with a broadside against Rishi Sunak, saying that under his leadership the party had become "a byword for incompetence and division" and had abandoned the centre ground.

The defection comes after MP Dan Poulter's decision to leave the Tories for Labour in April and the dismal local election results for the Conservatives last week.

While many in Labour are celebrating the move as a sign of the party's widening appeal, others have expressed concern over Ms Elphicke's past comments and whether she should be welcome.

Defection 'strained the generosity of spirit of John the Baptist'

Labour's former shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said he is "surprised and shocked", adding: "I'm a great believer in the powers of conversion, but I think even this one would have strained the generosity of spirit of John the Baptist."

Speaking to LBC, the veteran left-winger said it "certainly is a stunt that damages the Tories", but added that Ms Elphicke has expressed views in the past that "I don't think the party should be associated with".

He cited her attacks on migrants and condemning England footballer Marcus Rashford when he missed a penalty at the Euros, suggesting he was too focused on his free school meals campaign.

Mr McDonnell called on the Labour leadership to restore the whip to Diane Abbot and Jeremy Corbyn, who remain suspended over comments relating to antisemitism, saying it was starting to look like there was "no one Labour wouldn't accept".

Read More:
A defection and an intervention show Tory party is splintering
Who is the Tory MP who defected to Labour at PMQs?

'We're not a debating club'

Concerns were also raised by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who said the party has to be "choosy" about who it allows to join.

"It's a very broad church, but churches have walls and there are limits," he told BBC Radio 4.

He said that the new MP "has got to decide whether she is committed to the programme and principles of the Labour Party".

A defection and an intervention show the Tory party is splintering

"We are a political party and not a debating club," he added.

Ms Elphicke is standing down at the general election.

She was elected as Dover's Conservative MP in 2019, taking over the seat which had been held by her disgraced then-husband Charlie, who was jailed for two years after being found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women.

She stood by him during his trial but she said their marriage ended with his conviction.

'Utterly nonsensical'

Her defection was met with bafflement and disbelief on the Tory benches, with one minister telling Sky News it was "laughable and ignominious...a disgrace and a laughing stock".

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan said her defection is "completely and utterly nonsensical" adding: "I was gobsmacked... this literally does not make any sense."

Rail minister Huw Merriman said: "It just shows a real sort of career opportunistic turn from her, but also that Labour don't seem to have a set of principles either."