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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Ex-minister defects to Labour
Anthony Nelson
Mr Nelson praised Labour's policies on public services.
The latest Conservative to defect to Labour served as a minister under John Major's government and is known to be an enthusiastic pro-European.

Anthony Nelson, a Tory MP for 23 years until he stood down at the 1997 election, said he was joining Labour because of its "strong leadership" in Europe.


As this election approaches it is clear that only Tony Blair offers the leadership and vision this country needs

Anthony Nelson
Former Tory minister
He also praised the party's policies on public services and the economy.

The announcement of the defection was timed to coincide with an appeal by the prime minister to One Nation Tories to switch their allegiances to Labour.

The news, coming three days before polling day, will be a blow to the Conservative leader William Hague, who used his news conference on Monday morning to set out his timetable for his first 14 days in government.

Reacting to Mr Nelson's decision, Mr Hague commented: "That is his choice.

"Every day we are meeting thousands of people who are moving the other way, moving from voting Labour to voting Conservative in this election and they will have their say in this election. That's what counts."

Leadership and vision

Mr Nelson, formerly MP for Chichester, served as a junior minister from 1992 to 1997, working first in the Treasury and then in the Department of Trade and Industry, before stepping down from a seat inherited by the Tory, Andrew Tyrie, in 1997.

Explaining why he was abandoning his lifelong support for the Conservatives, Mr Nelson, who now works for an investment bank, said: "As this election approaches it is clear that only Tony Blair offers the leadership and vision this country needs.

"Labour's record on the sound management of the economy and the delivery of public services as well as their commitment to positive leadership in Europe convinces me they deserve to be supported this Thursday."

A keen supporter of Britain joining the euro under certain economic conditions, Mr Nelson said: "Any other policy would be highly damaging to the long-term interests of the UK and British business and in particular the impact on inward investment, jobs, trade and prosperity."

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