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Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has been 'tempted' to join Tories amid 'harassment' from Labour members

Kent's only Labour MP says she has been "tempted" to defect to the Conservatives following alleged harassment from her own party members.

Canterbury's MP Rosie Duffield has accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of failing to take action to clamp down on bullying within the party - saying it has left her pondering her future there.

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield

Ms Duffield won the Canterbury seat in 2017, when she ousted Tory stalwart Sir Julian Brazier in a historic victory.

But she has come under fire in recent years for her comments on trans rights, and has most recently been subject to what she has called "obsessive harassment" from left-wingers within Labour.

Speaking on a Telegraph podcast, Ms Duffield said Sir Keir contacted her last year in the wake of the transgender rights row, and again last month after comments from Labour Party members which led her to question her position in the party.

But she accused Sir Keir of failing to take meaningful action to tackle online bullying, and abuse towards female MPs.

She said it was "tempting" to join a party like the Tories, where there appeared to be less in-fighting than the Labour Party, adding that Conservative MPs had been "incredibly supportive" of her.

Rosie Duffield has been Canterbury MP since 2017. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Rosie Duffield has been Canterbury MP since 2017. Picture: Barry Goodwin

"They've been really nice," she said. "They have factions as well, but they don't tear it apart; they don't hate each other inside the party in the way that we do in some of our branches.

"It's tempting to go somewhere where you don't have to battle your own tiny faction of your own membership.

"That would be a nice idea. But how do I square Brexit? How do I square immigration? There are issues that I can't really imagine agreeing with the Tories on."

She described the Labour Party as being "two parties".

"We've got the Corbynistas' wing and we've got the more centrists," she said.

"(Sir Keir's) pledged to unite the party and to support both wings. But personally, I don't see how that is possible.

"At some point, over some issues, you have to come off the fence.

"This party is divided into two, certainly at the local level.

"Personally, leadership requires a slightly no-nonsense approach sometimes.

"It's great trying to accommodate everyone but when 'everyone' means people actively trying to bring down one of your MPs...you probably need to be sending out a stronger message that they don't do so in your name."

Regarding the option of sitting as an independent MP, without ties to a political party, she said: "That is an option for everyone, but everyone knows independent MPs don't win.

"I love my job...I'm quite good as a constituency MP and my team is fantastic. I don't want to not be an MP, but I do need some more support from the party quite soon."

The Liberal Democrats have also asked if she would join their benches, but she said: "I am not sure. I'm a Labour person. I shouldn't be having to feel like this."

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