ANDREW PIERCE A by-election? It’s not what the doctor ordered!

A by-election? It’s not what the doctor ordered! ANDREW PIERCE on how GP-turned-MP Sarah Wollaston can keep her seat until the next General Election

Among the defectors from the Tories to The Independent Group is the GP-turned-MP Sarah Wollaston.

By law, she and the other turncoats can keep their seats until the next General Election without having to resign and face a fresh vote with them standing as TIG candidates.

However, the situation is distinctly at odds with Wollaston’s previous views on rebel MPs.

(back row left to right) Independent Group members, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes, (middle row, left to right) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey, (front row, left to right) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Joan Ryan

For, in 2011, she co-sponsored a backbench Bill to make it compulsory for MPs who switch parties to resign immediately and face a by-election. 

Wollaston was chosen as Tory candidate for Totnes, Devon, in 2010 in a rarely-held primary, with postal ballot papers being sent to every voter in the Totnes constituency rather than just to Tory Party members.

It led to her being regarded with suspicion by some of her former Conservative colleagues.

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There has been much talk that the Gang of 11 should follow the example of two previous rebels.

Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless defected from the Tories to Ukip in 2014, but stepped down to face by-elections. Impressed by their principled stand, voters returned both men to Parliament.

So, will Wollaston take the risk, or leave herself open to accusations of hypocrisy?

Lord William Waldegrave was a minister during the Thatcher and Major governments

You’re a riot, Lord Waldegrave

On Saturday, Radio 4 will be broadcasting a documentary to mark the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Margaret Thatcher’s much-hated poll tax in Scotland. (It was imposed on England and Wales a year later, in 1990.)

Lord William Waldegrave, one of the Cabinet architects of the policy, tells the interviewer with delicious understatement: ‘The rates change had an intellectual beauty.’ 

What about the bloody poll tax riots which led to Mrs Thatcher being forced from No 10 just seven months later?

Jeremy Corbyn’s divisive leadership style has caused a steady trickle of Labour Party departures for some time.

Among them is journalist Fiona Millar, who says: ‘I have never felt more pleased that I left the Party six months ago — know of three friends who have done likewise in the past week.’

Millar — also a schools’ campaigner and Remain supporter — is the long-time partner of Alastair Campbell, once Tony Blair’s choleric communications chief.

Never a fan of Corbyn, will Big Al be the next to quit?

In the footsteps of Labour defector Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree), three councillors on the Labour group of Wirral Council, next door to her constituency, have quit over ‘public attacks’ on them from ‘hard-Left parasites’.

Wisdom of the week 

Wigan Labour MP Lisa Nandy talking about her party’s U-turn in support of a second referendum: ‘Large numbers of my constituents are now saying that they want to vote for No Deal.

‘Not listening to people, not responding to their concerns, is what got us here in the first place.’

Blunt advice for Mr Corbyn from Lord (David) Owen, the former Labour foreign secretary who became one of the Gang of Four who created the Social Democratic Party in 1981 . . .

‘A leader less identified with Trotskyism, Marxism and anti-Semitism would be able to win,’ he told the New Statesman. ‘Corbyn’s got to step down, though he can’t be forced out. He’s got to face the reality that he can’t win.’

Is May out for Rudd’s blood?

There was a hateful spate of hostile briefings against Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd in the weekend Press.

She was attacked for threatening, with two other Cabinet ministers, to resign unless a No-Deal Brexit was taken off the table by the Prime Minister. A friend of an undaunted Rudd says: ‘She knows No 10 is behind the briefings.’

They added sarcastically: ‘It won’t affect Amber’s relationship with Theresa May. For the truth is that few of the Cabinet have a particularly warm relationship with Theresa.’     

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