Former Tory MP Antoinette Sandbach has joined the Liberal Democrats, boosting Jo Swinson’s party on the first full day of campaigning for the general election.
The Eddisbury MP is the fifth former Conservative to join the Lib Dems in recent months, with three ex-Labour MPs also switching the party within that time.
Ms Sandbach, who was stripped of the Tory whip by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, won the seat at the 2017 election as a Conservative candidate with a near-12,000 majority.
She said of her switch to the Lib Dems: “This general election will be the most important in my lifetime… People have a very clear choice, the Conservative Party offers years of uncertainty whilst the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit.
“I’m so proud to stand alongside other Liberal Democrat candidates across the country to fight for a brighter future with Jo Swinson, our candidate to be prime minister.
Lib Dem leader Ms Swinson described Ms Sandbach as a “fantastic candidate”. She said: “Her defection clearly shows that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and attracting support from right across the political spectrum.”
As Ms Sandbach will contest her current Cheshire seat as a Lib Dem candidate at the December 12 poll, the party will now have at least 20 MPs when the Commons breaks up next week.
The Lib Dems returned 12 MPs at the election in 2017.
Ms Sandbach was effectively expelled from the Tories in September when she had the whip withdrawn by Mr Johnson for voting against his Brexit plan.
She joined 20 other Tory rebels in voting to block a no-deal Brexit.
Before joining the Lib Dems she had revealed her intent to stand at the election in her Eddisbury constituency as an independent candidate.
She lost a vote of confidence among members of her local Conservative association earlier in October.