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BBC's John Pienaar
"Labour wants him exactly where he is"
 real 28k

Former Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine
"Conservative party has not gone to an extreme right position"
 real 28k

Sir George Young, Shadow leader of the House
"I'm sad that Shaun has left the Conservative party"
 real 28k

Shaun Woodward talks to Sir David Frost
"The Tory Party of today is extremist"
 real 28k

Michael Ancram, Conservative Party Chairman
"I'd always found it difficult to take Shaun at face value"
 real 28k

Monday, 20 December, 1999, 11:12 GMT
Fallout grows over Tory turncoat

Shaun Woodward: "My party left me"

Tory recriminations over the defection of Shaun Woodward are expected to continue as the MP begins his career with the Labour Party.

The message still doesn't seem to be sinking into the leadership. We cannot afford to lose people like Shaun Woodward
Tory MP Ian Taylor
Tory members in Mr Woodward's Witney constituency will meet on Monday night and are expected to call on him to stand down and face a by-election.

However, the new Labour MP has already ruled out such a move and has renewed his attack upon his former party.

Mr Woodward warned Conservative leader William Hague that a number of other Tory MPs could be ready to follow his lead and defect.

He is not expected to sit in the Commons on Monday, postponing what will inevitably be a hostile reception from former colleagues.

Can I join your party? - Woodward celebrates with Jack Straw
But Mr Woodward said: "It's not me who left my party. My party left me."

Writing in The Express newspaper, he said: "Their arguments simply prevent the leadership realising the modern Conservative Party is increasingly right-wing, out of touch and intolerant.

"They also stop the Tory Party understanding why I, like so many other former Conservative supporters, feel our natural home is now a New Labour Party which is building a modern, prosperous and fairer country."

Mr Hague has yet to speak publicly about the damaging defection. But the move has prompted warnings over policy to the Tory leader.

Senior Tories have urged Mr Hague to learn lessons from Mr Woodward's decision to change sides.

Michael Heseltine Michael Heseltine: Shaun Woodward will become 'a dot on the horizon'
Lord Hurd, Mr Woodward's predecessor as Tory MP for Witney, said: "If everybody who shares the kind of concerns and anxieties that Shaun Woodward had left, then the party would never be elected to govern."

He added: "The leadership must find a way to keep these doors open for people who have anxieties about issues like Europe and homosexual rights, but who nevertheless feel more Conservative than Labour.

"These people exist in large numbers and they are going to be crucial in getting the Conservatives elected."

MP Ian Taylor also urged Mr Hague to rethink his policies.

The Conservative Party has not gone to an extreme right position This is just another spin of Tony Blair's spin doctors
Michael Heseltine
But former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, whose pro-European views are at odds with the party's line, insisted that Mr Woodward's criticisms were unfounded.

He predicted the Tories would return to power "from a position that is essentially a one-nation centralist position".

Conservative chairman Michael Ancram, accused Mr Woodward of self-centred careerism.

"Shaun has decided for his own reasons to leave the party and no amount of sincerity or fake sincerity is going to hide that fact," he said.

"He is a man of great ability and he is also a man of great plausibility, and what is now becoming apparent is that what he lacks is candour and honour."

Labour unease at defection

corbyn Jeremy Corbyn: Uncomfortable about new colleague
Mr Woodward is the third Tory MP to defect to New Labour, yet not all the party's MPs share Downing Street's delight at his move.

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn said: "I am not comfortable that somebody who organised the 1992 Tory election campaign which complained about Labour's so-called tax bombshell should now say the his suddenly so fed up of the Tories that he is joining Labour."

Veteran Labour MP Tony Benn urged Mr Woodward to face the voters in a by-election.

"If he's joined Labour fine and great, but he'd better prove that he's wanted in Parliament. I think that principle is one we've got to re-establish," he said.

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See also:
20 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
The blurring of politics
20 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Labour hopes of Tory split
20 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Sex change brother backs defecting MP
20 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Woodward in his own words
20 Dec 99 |  UK
Heat on Hague, say papers
18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tory star who jumped ship
18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Another Tory wooed by Blair
18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Mixed reaction to Woodward defection
18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Woodward's letter in full
18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Hague's letter in full

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