The former Conservative minister this week backed Labor leader Keir Starmer after he quit his own party and branded it an “ideology and obsession”.
About it in the article for The Times that she quit the Conservative Party earlier this month before praising the Labor leader.
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In an article on renewable energy development, she said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, were “too beholden to a party now dominated by ideology and self-regard to deliver the big changes we need in a fact-based, competent way.” On the contrary, she praised Starmer for his “sober, fact-based, competent political leadership”.
Changing political affiliation is rare but not unheard of in the world of Westminster politics – last January. Christian Wakefordwho won Bury South from Labor for the Conservatives in the 2019 election, moved to the floor to join the Labor Party and is now Labor Whip. Work list reported that the catalyst for the switch was Wakeford’s friendship with Labor MP Barry Gardiner after they worked together to support Gardiner’s “dismissal and re-employment” bill.
Friendships across the political divide “always surprise outside observers” within the walls of Westminster, but “they are so common they are rarely commented on”, wrote former Labor MP Tom Harris in Telegraph. However, such friendships are often the “love that dare not speak its name” in the public eye.
Here’s a look at some of the strangest political friendships in Westminster and around the world.
Alistair Campbell and Charles Kennedy
Former political scientist and journalist Alastair Campbell, former Labor leader, wrote movingly in an article for i news site in 2021.
Having grown close during New Labour’s years – despite significant differences over the Iraq war – Campbell wrote that he was “surprised by how much grief struck” when the Lib Dem politician died in 2015. He credited a friendship that “taught me that you can be on different sides of politics, but be on the same side when it comes to basic humanity.”
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
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Long-time and often bitter political rivals in Northern Ireland politics, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and the DUP’s Ian Paisley have forged an unlikely political friendship after the two parties struck a power-sharing deal in 2007.
After Paisley and McGuinness became First Minister and Deputy First Minister, the pair often traveled together, albeit discreetly, on the same plane but disembarking separately so they would not be seen together. Their close bond soon became apparent, however, earning them the nickname “The Chuckle Brothers.”
“Our relationship has confused many. Of course, our political differences continued; his allegiance was to Great Britain and mine to Ireland. But we were able to work effectively together for the benefit of all our people,” McGuinness said after Paisley’s death, according to reports Belfast Telegraph.
Margaret Thatcher and Augusta Pinochet
Membership of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was “widely criticized” at the time, said MSN.com. The unlikely alliance began in 1982 when Chile helped Britain reclaim the Falkland Islands, which had been seized by Argentina.
Never one to forget a debt of gratitude, Thatcher later spoke out against the “callous and unjust” decision to put her “true friend” under house arrest in England for human rights abuses in 1998.
Joe Biden and John McCain
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The late Republican senator John McCain was associated with a close friendship with the president Joe Biden while they served together in the US Senate. Their close friendship across party lines was evident at McCain’s funeral, where Biden paid a loving tribute to the late politician, declaring: “I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain.”
Their friendship also seems to have influenced policy making CNN. Biden and McCain were seen having an “emotional discussion” before McCain critically voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017, one of three Republicans to do so.
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
“If anyone had the right to despise Bill Clinton, it was the one he kicked out of the White House,” wrote Jacob Hess. Deseret News.
Instead, they formed an unlikely friendship sparked by a generous note George W. Bush left for his successor upon entering the White House. It said, “You will become our president if you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is the success of our country. I’m really rooting for you. Good luck George.”
Clinton would later call their friendship “one of the great joys of my life,” and after the former Republican president’s death, she said, “I just loved him.”
Pierre Trudeau and Fidel Castro
The friendship between former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro has been “tainted” by the West’s isolationist policies toward communist Cuba, MSN.com reports.
In 1976, Trudeau visited Havana with the goal of normalizing relations with the island nation, despite the fact that the meeting drew criticism from the Canadian public. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have never been severed, Castro attended Trudeau’s funeral in 2000.
After Castro’s death in 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warmly recalled his late father’s friendship with the Cuban leader and paid tribute to the “great leader” by saying that Reuters called “significantly more positive” than those of most Western leaders, who “either condemned the revolutionary leader’s human rights activities or tiptoed around the topic.”