‘Good work Agent Wakeford!’ Ex-Tory MP mocked as plot to humiliate Boris swiftly backfires

PMQs: Keir Starmer welcomes Christian Wakeford

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Christian Wakeford defected to the Labour party yesterday in light of the escalating “Partygate” scandal. Mr Wakeford accused Boris Johnson, and “the Conservative Party as a whole”, of being “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”. While Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the defection, praising Mr Wakeford for “always putting the people of Bury South first”, insiders have indicated that the defection may have backfired.

A Tory MP who is reportedly sceptical of Mr Johnson told Politico’s London Playbook that “it focused minds”.

They added: “It’s one thing to demand Boris does a better job, and another to be helping the opposition.”

Another MP added: “Sometimes it takes a traitor to unify the party.”

Meanwhile, a Johnson ally joked: “Good work Agent Wakeford.”

James Forsyth, political editor of the Spectator, warned that the defection may make it less likely for a no confidence vote to be triggered.

He said: “Tory MPs who are on the fence about the Prime Minister’s future think Wakeford’s defection has made it more likely that the number of letters required for a no confidence vote won’t be reached until after the Gray report is out.”

54 no confidence letters, representing 15 per cent of Tory MPs, are required to be submitted to the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee in order to trigger a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons.

While it is not yet clear how many letters have been sent in, a number of Tory MPs have publicly called for Mr Johnson’s resignation.

At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, former Brexit Minister David Frost called on the PM to leave his post.

The list of those calling for Mr Johnson to resign also includes Science Minister George Freeman, Health Minister Maria Caulfield, and leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross.

This comes amid increasing allegations of rule-breaking and parties within Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown.

In the latest development, Mr Johnson claimed that “nobody warned me it was against the rules” for a drinks party to be hosted in Downing Street during the first lockdown.

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This followed allegations from Dominic Cummings, who accused the PM of lying when he said that nobody warned him.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently conducting an inquiry into the alleged breaches, expected to be published next week.

Mr Wakeford admitted that crossing the bench to the Labour party was “the most difficult decision I have ever had to make”.

Speaking to broadcasters on the day of his defection, he said he had been considering the decision for “many months”.

He said: “This isn’t a matter of just deciding this morning, you know, I want to be a Labour MP – this has been many months in the build-up.

“And whether it goes back to the issues over free school meals and Dominic Cummings, or over Universal Credit and the cost-of-living crisis… the Owen Paterson affair or now ‘partygate’, there has been a lot of… build-up to this and a lot of soul searching that’s taken many sleepless nights.

“This is something that has taken many months to come to, and it’s not been an easy decision, if anything it’s been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. But I do think it’s the right decision for me, I think it’s the right decision for Bury South.”

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