Sarwar: New Labour MP who defected from Tories 'should be held to account'

The Scottish Labour leader said he 'did not know Natalie Elphicke' but he 'fundamentally disagreed' with some of her past comments.

Anas Sarwar has said the latest MP to defect to Labour from the Tories ‘should be held to account for previous comments’.

The Scottish Labour leader said that while he did not know new Labour MP Natalie Elphicke, he “fundamentally disagreed” with previous comments made in the past by the former Conservative.

Elphicke had previously made comments defending her ex-husband and predecessor as MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke, who was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women.

He was jailed for two years.

She ended the marriage after his conviction but supported his unsuccessful appeal, saying Elphicke had been “attractive, and attracted to women” and “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations”.

Elphicke claimed he’d been the victim of a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.

Sarwar told STV News: “I don’t know Natalie Elphicke. A lot of things she said in the past I would fundamentally disagree with, but if she’s now had a Damascene change of her political views, I think she’s got to hold to account for her previous comments rather than anybody else.

“But she’s not going to be a Labour candidate. We’ve got a great candidate in Mike Tapp in Dover and Deal and I hope that he will be part of the story of getting rid of this rotten Tory government.”

Natalie Elphickie was one of several MPs to receive a one-day Commons ban in 2021 by the standards committee after it found they had attempted to influence the judge presiding over Elphicke’s trial.

In a statement on Thursday, Elphicke said she condemned her ex-husband’s “behaviour towards other women and towards me”, adding it was “right that he was prosecuted” and she was “sorry for the comments that I made about his victims”.

She said: “The period of 2017 – 2020 was an incredibly stressful and difficult one for me as I learned more about the person I thought I knew. I know it was far harder for the women who had to relive their experiences and give evidence against him.”

Elphicke added: “It is vital that women can have confidence in the criminal justice system and our rates of prosecution and conviction are far too low as a country.

“Keir Starmer’s mission to halve male violence against women and girls is critical and I wanted to take the opportunity to express my explicit support for Labour colleagues working to realise it.”

Meanwhile, when asked about Unite’s criticism of Labour’s new deal for workers, who branded it a ‘charter for bad bosses’, Sarwar said: “Look, I don’t accept the criticism this is a new deal for working people that’s been done and co-designed with our affiliate trade unions.

Sarwar argued that other unions have backed the new deal, despite Unite saying it is unrecognisable from what they co-designed.

He said: “If you look at what the TUC have said and the STUC, they backed the new deal for working people. I have full faith in Angela Rayner as the co-designer of the new deal for working people that work with our trade union movement to make sure this is actually delivered by a Labour government and it’s something that we will fundamentally campaign on.

“It’s a good deal for workers. The most transformative change in workers rights in a generation.”

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