Conservative Mark Logan defects to Labour - saying 'we need a new government'

Sir Keir Starmer is celebrating the third defection by a Tory to Labour in just over a month.

Mark Logan, who was elected Conservative MP for Bolton North East in 2019, has told Sky News he is quitting the Tories and is urging people to vote Labour in the general election on 4 July.

Mr Logan told Sky News's Politics Hub With Ali Fortescue that he would not be seeking a new seat as a Labour candidate, saying: "The decision today has been all about whether or not I'd be standing as a Conservative MP or backing Labour... and I've gone for the latter."

But he added: "It's just a time for a change. It's a time for optimism from a new movement. And I believe that's what the Labour Party is offering."

In recent months, he has been a fierce critic of the government's policy on Gaza and is now calling on the UK to recognise Palestine as a country.

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Welcoming his party's new member, Labour leader Sir Keir said: "Voters across the country are looking to Labour for change. I am pleased Mark Logan has taken the decision to vote for Labour at this upcoming general election.

"After 14 years of Tory failure, voters are returning to Labour because they can see that we are a changed party and back in service of working people. It's time to stop the chaos, turn the page and rebuild Britain."

Northern Ireland-born Mr Logan, 40, won his seat from Labour in the 2019 general election with a slender majority of just 378. It had been Labour since 1997 but was previously held by the Tories.

A former UK diplomat serving in China who is fluent in Mandarin and Japanese, his dramatic switch follows secret talks with Labour chief whip Sir Alan Campbell and members of Sir Keir's inner circle.

Mr Logan had been due to defend the seat in the general election.

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In a "personal statement" on Commons stationery written just before parliament dissolved on Thursday, Mr Logan referred to Labour's 1997 election anthem Things Can Only Get Better.

He wrote: "Labour is back, and given how things have been, I believe things can only get better.

"After much soul-searching throughout my first term in parliament, brought to a head with the calling of a snap election last week, I have concluded that we need a new government and I believe the UK will be best served with that government being a Labour government.

"We need renewed enthusiasm and optimism in both tone and in policy, and I believe that we are already seeing this through Keir Starmer and the team.

"I am resigning from the Conservative Party with immediate effect. Regrettably, I will therefore not contest our constituency at the upcoming general election."

And he concluded: "The first time I voted, I voted for Labour. The next time I vote it will be a vote for Labour."

Besides the obvious humiliation for Rishi Sunak, the latest defection is also embarrassing for the prime minister because Mr Logan is a junior member of the government, a parliamentary private secretary to ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions.

He becomes the third Tory to defect to Labour since late April, following Dan Poulter and Natalie Elphicke, and the fourth since the last election, following Christian Wakeford in January 2022.

Since the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October last year, Mr Logan - whose constituency has a large Muslim population - has been increasingly critical of UK policy and the actions of the Israeli government during its response in Gaza.

In the controversial Commons debate in February on an SNP motion demanding an immediate ceasefire, he dramatically broke ranks with his own party and said Israel had "gone too far".

In defiance of government policy, he told MPs: "I no longer in good conscience can continue backing in public the line that we have taken on this side of the House, regrettably."

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In a TV interview in March, Mr Logan also accused former deputy Conservative chair Lee Anderson of Islamophobia and said he should apologise for claims he made about London mayor Sadiq Khan after defecting from the Tories to Reform UK.

And in his final Commons intervention on Gaza, two days before Mr Sunak's shock general election announcement, Mr Logan angrily challenged Andrew Mitchell, the deputy foreign secretary.

"My constituents in Bolton are livid today," he declared at the time, "because they have seen through the International Criminal Court that there is evidence that 'acts were committed... to use starvation as a method of war', along with violence".

"Evidence of the collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza and evidence that Israel has intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.

"Never mind being on the right side of history, will we ensure that we are on the right side of the present?"