TORY DEFECTION Top Tory MP Dan Poulter defects to Labour & accuses govt of failing the NHS

TORY MP and former health minister Dr Dan Poulter has defected to Labour.

The MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich has quit Rishi Sunak's party to "focus on his work as a doctor".

Conservative MP and former health minister Dr Dan Poulter has defected to Labour
Conservative MP and former health minister Dr Dan Poulter has defected to LabourCredit: PA:Press Association
Dr Poulter signing his Labour membership form with MP Ellie Reeves
Dr Poulter signing his Labour membership form with MP Ellie ReevesCredit: Labour Party

He will take the Labour whip until the general election, when he will not be running again, he told the Observer.

Dr Poulter said the Conservative Party "feels like it has become a nationalist party of the right", having seen a "rightward drift" since David Cameron's premiership.

"The health service has ceased to be an area of priority for the Conservative Party, and that is now showing in the strain on the front line and the deterioration of care for patients," he said.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said on social media site X: "Proud to welcome Dr Dan Poulter MP to the @UKLabour Party."As a frontline clinician, he's seen the damage that 14 years of Conservative government have done to our NHS.

"Delighted to have his support and look forward to working with him, especially on mental health reform."

Dr Poulter, a working medic, also said Mr Sunak should call a general election "as soon as possible".

He wrote: "I believe it is now incumbent on me as a medical practitioner passionately committed to our NHS to throw my weight behind the Labour Party in its determination to ensure we again have a health service of which we can be proud, and which best meets the needs of every patient."It is abundantly clear to me that the Labour Party alone has the will and the trust to restore and reform the NHS.

"That's why we need a Labour government, and why I believe Keir Starmer must lead that government as our next prime minister."

The defection is a significant blow to Mr Sunak less than a week before council and mayoral elections in which the Tories are expected to suffer heavy losses.


HERE is Dr Dan Poulter's letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in full:

Dear Rishi,

I am writing to let you know that, after deep reflection and much heart-searching, I have decided, in all professional conscience, that I can no longer continue as a member of the Conservative Party. I have therefore today resigned my membership of the Party and will not be standing for re-election at the General Election.

As you know, alongside my work as an MP for the past 14 years, I have always worked as an NHS hospital doctor. Throughout the ongoing junior doctors strike, I have spent more than twenty night-shifts, over the last year or so, working as a mental health doctor in a busy Hospital A&E Department. It has been a truly life changing experience. Working on the front line of a health service under impossible strain has left me, at times, struggling to look my NHS colleagues, my patients and my constituents in the eye.

It is this that has led me to resign from the Conservative Party to focus on my work as a doctor and, at the same time, I will be supporting the Labour Party to deliver a better NHS. Regrettably, I have come to the conclusion that only the Labour Party has the trust and the will to restore a failing health service which is currently unable to deliver the care patients need and deserve.

Naturally, I shall continue, as diligently as I always have done, to serve my constituents until the next election, although in the interim I will not be sitting on the Government benches in the House of Commons.

I would respectfully ask and urge that you call a General Election as soon as you feel able.

In leaving the Conservative Party at this juncture, I wish you personally all the very best for the future, and hope that you will understand the reasons for my decision.

Yours sincerely,


It marks the first time a Conservative MP crossed the floor to Labour since Christian Wakeford did so in 2022.

Dr Poulter's move is the second defection under Mr Sunak, after former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson ditched the party for Reform earlier this year.

It is likely to spook already restive Tory MPs and fuel doubts over Mr Sunak's leadership.

Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the "fantastic" defection.

He penned: "It's fantastic to welcome Dr Dan Poulter MP to today's changed Labour Party.

"It's time to end the Conservative chaos, turn the page and get Britain's future back. I'm really pleased that Dan has decided to join us on this journey."

In an interview with BBC presenter Laura Kuenssberg, Dr Poulter added: "I found it increasingly difficult to look my NHS colleagues in the eye, my patients in the eye and my constituents in the eye with good conscience, and I feel that the NHS deserves better than it has at the moment in terms of how it's run and governed."

He continued: "The party I was elected into valued public services, it valued, it had a compassionate view about supporting the more disadvantaged in society.

"I think the Conservative Party today is in a very different place - its focus is not on delivering or supporting high-quality public services."

A Tory Party spokesperson said: "For the people of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich this will be disappointing news.

"What Dan says is wrong as Sir Keir Starmer has no plan for our NHS.

"Under the Conservatives we are raising NHS funding to a record £165 billion a year, helping it recover from the effects of the pandemic and driving forward its first ever long-term workforce plan so that we train the doctors and nurses we need for the future in our country.

"Thanks to our plan, we have already virtually eliminated the longest waits and overall waiting lists have fallen by 200,000 in the last five months - and we will go further to make sure everyone gets the world-class care they need.

"This stands in stark contrast to the Welsh NHS - run into the ground by the Welsh Labour Government over the last 25 years which has waiting lists and waiting times way beyond what is being delivered in England."

He told Laura Kuenssberg he believes that Keir Starmer can be trusted to run public services
He told Laura Kuenssberg he believes that Keir Starmer can be trusted to run public servicesCredit: BBC
Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the 'fantastic' defection
Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the 'fantastic' defection

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