Westminster is awash with chatter about the identity of the mystery Tory MPs threatening to defect to the Labour party.
Nigel Adams MP even tweeted a picture of himself pointing accusingly at Jacob Rees-Mogg, along with the caption: “It’s important to leave no stone unturned as we aim to identify potential defectors to Labour.”
So far, we have a few tantalising hints. Senior Labour sources briefed the Sunday Times that “at least half a dozen” Tory MPs were considering switching allegiance in the aftermath of last week’s by-election trouncings.
The Telegraph puts the number of Tory MPs considering defecting at three – all of them male – while the Guardian’s Jess Elgot reports that one MP is in “advanced discussions” about crossing the aisle and a second is in talks with a Labour MP about doing the same. Both MPs are from the 2019 intake, and one has a marginal seat.
Several prime suspects have denied any involvement. Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison was so outraged that her name had been mentioned that she tweeted: “For the avoidance of doubt, again, I’m not bloody defecting.”
Robert Largan, MP for High Peak, and Gary Sambrook, who represents Birmingham Northfield, have batted away allegations. Largan joked he was too working class for Labour.
During an appearance at the New Statesman’s Politics Live conference today, Sir Keir Starmer refused to deny reports that Labour is in talks with several would-be Tory defectors.
It’s obviously in Labour’s interest to stir the pot. Even so, the rumours aren’t going away…