Three Red Wall Conservatives in talks to defect to Labour

Three defections after the loss of the Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield by-elections would mean Mr Johnson’s effective majority in the Commons would be reduced by 10, making it significantly easier for Tory rebels to defeat the Government.

It would be the biggest defection from the Conservatives since 2019, when Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston joined Change UK. The latter two lost their seats at the 2019 election, while Ms Allen chose not to stand again.

Mr Johnson, who is down in the polls and has struggled to recover from the partygate scandal in recent months, said on Monday he believed he had a “new mandate” to lead the Tories because he had won the confidence vote.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, he said he was “focused 1,000 per cent” on delivering a “massive, massive agenda” for the country and was not considering his position. He added: “Nobody abandons a privilege like that.”

On Monday, two Conservative MPs who had been widely thought to have been considering defection denied they were planning to cross the floor.

Dehenna Davison, the MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “For the avoidance of doubt – again – I’m not bloody defecting. To those anonymous colleagues spreading such rumours, my door is always open for a chat.”

Caroline Nokes, a senior backbencher who has been critical of Mr Johnson in recent months, said: “Me neither – just to pop that on the record.”

The news that three Tory MPs could cross the floor follows the defection of Christian Wakefordthe MP for Bury South, in January.

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