A key member of the Liberal Democrats may consider moving to the Labour Party, following the landslide victory of Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month. According to a report in the Sunday Times, the crossbencher Baroness Tonge has stated that she was "thinking" about defecting from the Liberal Democrats to Labour.
Tonge said that several unnamed members of the Liberal Democrats could also defect as a new broom sweeps through the Labour party and Corbyn gathers more supporters. The broadsheet said that Tonge agreed with Corbyn on several key policies including defence, the environment and foreign affairs, and that the new Labour leader seemed to be a breath of "fresh air". She also insisted that Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell were some of the most honest people in Parliament.
Tonge said that she had thought about joining Labour on several occasions, but she had not recently seen the party as left-wing enough. Corbyn is known to want to steer Labour back to its left-wing roots.
She has been friendly with the Labour leader for many years and, like Corbyn, and has shown her support for Palestinian statehood. She told the paper, "I marched alongside [former Labour MP] Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, one on either side. I went to Gaza with Jeremy Corbyn and we met Hamas leaders together."
Tonge has a colourful past and resigned from the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party over a row regarding comments made about Israel. In 2012, she told a university audience that Israel would "reap what it's sown" and that the country was "not going to be there forever". Tonge remains a member of the Liberal Democrat party, although she is a crossbencher Lord now.
In 2004, when she was still an MP she also angered the party's then leader Charles Kennedy who asked her to resign as the Liberal Democrat children's spokeswoman after she said that she "might just consider" becoming a suicide bomber if she was a Palestinian.
The suggestion that Tonge may defect comes after the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Labour MPs that they would be welcome as defectors to the LibDems, and former Lib Dem MP Sir Vince Cable said that his party expected a sizeable number of Labour MPs to cross over to his party.