James Forsyth

Christian Wakeford’s defection has saved Boris – for now

Christian Wakeford’s defection has saved Boris – for now
Christian Wakeford (Credit: Parliament TV)
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An MP crossing the floor just before PMQs is the stuff of prime ministerial nightmares. But, oddly, Christian Wakeford’s defection might, in the very short term, have helped Boris Johnson. 

MPs hate defectors and so Tory MPs will unite in condemnation of Wakeford. His decision also makes it easier for Johnson’s allies to raise questions about the judgement of those pushing for a rapid vote of no confidence in the party leader.

Tory MPs who are on the fence about the Prime Minister’s future think Wakeford's defection has probably 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. (Johnson indicated in PMQs that it would be out next week).

But it isn't all good news for Boris. Wakeford's defection tells a worrying story for the Tories in the medium term. It is an indication that he thinks it will be much easier for him to hold his seat, which has a majority of just 402, as a Labour candidate. But a Downing Street that is fighting hour by hour for its survival will take the view that ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’ and instead try and use Wakeford to get Tory MPs to hold off on acting against Johnson.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is political editor of The Spectator.

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