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by Kirsteen Paterson
12 October 2023
Rishi Sunak welcomes 'brave' Lisa Cameron to Conservative party after SNP defection

Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Rishi Sunak welcomes 'brave' Lisa Cameron to Conservative party after SNP defection

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called Lisa Cameron "brave" and welcomed her to the Conservative party after she quit the SNP.

One of "the 56" SNP MPs elected in the landmark 2015 general election, Cameron announced her defection this morning.

The news came hours before she faced deselection by local SNP members in her East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow constituency.

Cameron has called the SNP "toxic" and said she had to undergo counselling after suffering bullying as part of the party's Westminster group.

Prominent local figures including former Scottish Parliament deputy presiding officer Linda Fabiani and current MSP Collette Stevenson are amongst those to have publicly backed SNP staffer Grant Costello in his challenge to Cameron as a potential candidate for the 2024 general election.

Announcing the switch in the Daily Mail, Cameron said she was "particularly grateful to the prime minister" in valuing her "contribution to parliament" and for "taking time to listen". She said of Sunak: "It is the first time I have felt heard and shows positive, inclusive leadership in contrast to that which I have encountered in the SNP at Westminster over many years."

Now Sunak has made his own statement, saying he is "delighted Lisa has joined" his party. Sunak posted: "She's a brave constituency MP.

"Together we'll work on the issues that matter to people in East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. We'll make long-term decisions for a brighter future for the whole of the UK."

The comment comes after the SNP called for a by-election, saying Cameron's constituents "elected an SNP MP, not a Tory", and after the local constituency branch of the SNP posted its own statement on the matter. 

It said: "Lisa Cameron's attacks in the press against her own colleagues and local members of the SNP demonstrated her true character.

"The fact her decision to join the Tories just hours before the selection will come as no surprise. It is clear she lost faith with members and had very little support.

"We feel sorry for the members and supporters who placed their faith in her. For many it will be a slap in the face that she joined the Tories."

The statement went on: "We look forward to the upcoming general election campaign, which cannot come soon enough."

Cameron achieved a majority of more than 13,300 votes in 2019 and her defection comes three days before SNP conference in Aberdeen.

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