A Bolton councillor has welcomed a Conservative MP’s defection to the Labour party.

Cllr Sean Fielding, who is Bolton Council’s cabinet member for health, praised comments made in an Observer interview with MP Dan Poulter, who announced he had defected to the Labour Party on Saturday, April 27.

In an interview with the Observer, Mr Poulter, who is MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said he would not be seeking re-election at the forthcoming general election – but that he would take the Labour whip until then.

He has been an MP since 2010, and the 45-year-old first entered politics for the Tories as a councillor in 2006, but has quit the party over its handling of the NHS.

Mr Poulter, a consultant psychiatrist who continues to work in the NHS alongside his MP role, said he "found it increasingly difficult to look my NHS colleagues in the eye, my patients in the eye, and my constituents in the eye with good conscience" as a Conservative.

Sign up to our newsletters to get the latest stories sent straight to your inbox.

He also praised Labour party policy on the NHS, saying it could be trusted to deliver reforms to the health service to bring it ‘back on its feet’.

The Bolton News: Cllr Sean Fielding praised Mr Poulter's defectionCllr Sean Fielding praised Mr Poulter's defection (Image: Jack Fifield, Newsquest)

Cllr Sean Fielding said: “I’m pleased that Mr Poulter has recognised that Labour is the only party with a coherent policy on health, and which wants to sort out the social determinants of health such as poverty and poor housing.

“As a ward councillor, I’ve visited too many constituents where damp homes are making them ill or poorly insulated housing is putting them in fuel poverty, so they don’t have enough money to look after themselves.

“Fixing these things would save so much money in the long run by preventing people from getting so ill that they need to go into hospital.

“Dan’s experience as a hospital doctor means he knows his stuff and will be an invaluable advisor to the Labour Party ahead of the next general election.”

The Conservative Party said the defection was "disappointing" and defended its record on NHS funding, while Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed Mr Poulter into the Labour ranks.

If you have a story, I cover the whole borough of Bolton. Please get in touch at jack.fifield@newsquest.co.uk.