Ex-Tory MP Sarah Wollaston joins the Liberal Democrats in boost for Jo Swinson
Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston has joined the Liberal Democrats, party leader Jo Swinson has confirmed.
In a statement, Ms Swinson confirmed that the Totnes MP - who quit the Tories earlier this year to represent the Independent Group for Change - had joined the Lib Dem ranks, taking the party's Commons tally to 14 MPs.
Ms Swinson, who is set to give a speech on the party's Brexit stance on Thursday, said: "Today, we welcome another addition to our team. Dr Sarah Wollaston.
"I am thrilled that Sarah has chosen to join the Liberal Democrats.
"Sarah is a fierce campaigner who I have enjoyed working with in the campaign to stop Brexit and as one of the most respected Members of Parliament and brings real expertise to our team.
"She is one of more than 40,000 people who have joined us since May in rejecting the politics of nationalism and populism, showing it is the Liberal Democrats who can deliver an alternative vision for our country."
Ms Wollaston's move follows the decision by her former Change UK colleague Chuka Umunna - who defected to the parliamentary bloc from Labour - to join the Lib Dems in June.
He has since become a Treasury spokesperson for the anti-Brexit outfit.
In a video statement, Ms Wollaston said she was "delighted to be joining the Liberal Democrats" under Ms Swinson's leadership.
She added: "I genuinely think the best way for me to represent my constituents is to be working as part of a fantastic team of MPs here in Parliament, unequivocally making the case for us to remain at the heart of Europe and also campaigning for social justice, our public services, and for a much fairer society."
The Totnes MP - a trained doctor who chairs the cross-party Health and Social Care committee - was first elected for the Conservatives in 2010, having been chosen in the party's first ever open primary to pick a candidate.
She quit the Tories in February to join what was then called the Independent Group, arguing: "Brexit has re-defined the Conservative Party - undoing all the efforts to modernise it."
But the group, which rebranded as Change UK, failed to make a breakthrough at May's European elections, taking home just 3% of the nationwide vote.