Sat. May 28th, 2022

Christian Wakeford said he was elected as a centrist and will remain a centrist after his departure to the Labor Party, amid calls in his Bury South constituency for a by-election.

Wakeford, who backed a 2020 bill that urged any MP who changes party to face a recall request, said it was “quite clear” that his former party would lose its seat in a by-election.

“I think it was quite clear that even the Prime Minister did not call for a by-election today, and I think it has been quite clear that they know they would lose,” he told TV stations. .

But in Prestwich city center, voters from across the political spectrum would like to see the faith tested at the polls, a view also supported by Jamie Driscoll, Labour’s mayor of North Tyne. In a letter to Boris Johnson published Wednesday afternoon, Wakeford said he believed that “the policies of the Conservative government that you are leading do nothing to help the people of my constituency and in fact only do the struggles they facing on a daily basis, worse. ” .

Local businessman Sham Raja, 50, president of the North Manchester Conservative Association.
Local businessman Sham Raja, 50, president of the North Manchester Conservative Association. Photo: Richard Saker / The Observer

Sham Raja, president of North Manchester’s Conservative Association, said he had seen PMQs when Wakeford crossed the floor to sit with Keir Starmer’s party. The MP, who was elected in 2019, came with his shock message just minutes before.

Raja found the defection “completely shameful” and called for a by-election to see if Wakeford would still win under a “Labor banner”. “We won more seats in Greater Manchester because of Boris Johnson, because of Brexit and because of the Conservative Party, and they should be grateful.”

Pamela McArdle, 73, who has voted Conservative for decades but had not had a local Tory MP since 1997, said she was “hit” with Wakeford, who said the prime minister “runs out of the way and he is by to run out of brass “. neck to hide behind ”.

“Boris Johnson is one person,” McArdle added. “You do not go away because you disagree with them.”

Rachel Hopkins, who usually supports Labor, reiterated the calls for a by-election. “It would be a better result than someone changing colors in such an extreme way. If he was going to Lib Dems, it would be a little more believable, but going from Tory to Labor feels a little ridiculous. I’m not really buying it.” .

Molly Griffiths, a 29-year-old nurse, welcomed the news as she enjoyed a pint in the sun. “I’m very Labor, so that’s good news. But it does not look good in the sense that one day he would have the no – confidence vote for the Conservatives, and then the next he switched to Labor. He still wants the same Conservatives. views?”

Molly Griffiths, 29, with Tom Mitchell, 54, in Prestwich city center.
Molly Griffiths, 29, with Tom Mitchell, 54, in Prestwich city center. Photo: Richard Saker / The Observer

Wakeford referred to topics such as free school meals, cuts in universal credit and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as scandals related to Dominic Cummings and Owen Paterson that had led to his decision.

The MP, who worked in the insurance industry and as a local councilor before his election, said the decision had required “a lot of soul searching” after “many sleepless nights”. “This is something that has taken many months to come to and it has not been an easy decision, if anything it has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. But I think it is the right decision for me, I think that’s the right decision for Bury South. “

Claire Richards, 35, who said Wakeford had helped her with a problem, agreed it was a good move for the area. “I would vote for him no matter what. He seemed like a good guy.”

Though they were greeted with cheers from the Labor benches at Westminster, and a “warm welcome” from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, a local source from the Labor Party said the news had not “gone down well with local members. None of them voted for him to be a Member of Parliament, so it will be difficult now to embrace him as one of our This may be positive news nationally, but locally it is not going to end well. “

Lol Grant, 51, in Prestwich city center.
Lol Grant, 51, in Prestwich city center. Photo: Richard Saker / The Observer

“He was worried about his P45, wasn’t he?”, Said Lol Grant, 51, referring to Wakeford’s thin majority of 402 votes. Grant, who works with children with special educational needs, was particularly upset after Wakeford voted against imposing a legal obligation on water companies not to pump wastewater into rivers. “Now he’s behaving like the shit he voted to allow flow into our pipes, and he’s flowing from one side of the chamber to the other.”

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