THREE Labour MPs have signalled that they are considering defecting to the Tory party after becoming disillusioned with Keir Starmer's leadership, it has been reported.

It was revealed that the MPs decided to "open lines of communication" with Tory whips about switching parties during the Labour conference last week.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the MPs are understood to be in despair over Starmer's failure to make gains against Boris Johnson in opinion polling as well as the party's deputy leader Angela Rayner describing Tories as "scum".

Party insiders said the defections would be a massive blow to Starmer's leadership.

It comes after Labour voters indicated that they want Starmer to step down as Labour leader for the first time since he took the job in April 2020.

READ MORE: Most voters want Keir Starmer to resign as Labour leader, poll finds

Just 37% of Labour voters want him to remain as leader of the party while 41% want him to resign, according to YouGov polling.

Across voters of all party allegiances, 36% want Starmer to resign as leader and just 31% want him to remain.

The Labour leader still lags behind Johnson in who the public think would make the best prime minister with Starmer on 26% and Johnson sitting on 31%.

Starmer was ahead of the Tory PM from August 2020 until February when Johnson retook the lead.

Labour's annual conference last week saw internal strife for the party brought to the fore with Andy McDonald, a member of the shadow cabinet, resigning his position while accusing Starmer of not honouring “our commitment to socialist policies”.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner (below) described the Tories as "scum" during an event for Labour activists from north-west England during the conference in Brighton.

The National:

"We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile [inaudible] Banana Republic, vile, nasty, Etonian [inaudible] piece of scum”, Rayner said.

She refused to apologise for her comments adding that "anyone who leaves children hungry during a pandemic and can give billions of pounds to their mates on WhatsApp, I think that was pretty scummy".

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar avoids taking a side in Angela Rayner Tory 'scum' row

The last Labour MP who defected to join the Tories was Reg Prentice in 1977 after a series of battles with left-wing constituents. He was then elected as a Tory in 1979, becoming a social security minister in Margaret Thatcher's government.

After stepping down as an MP in 1987, he entered the House of Lords as a life peer, becoming Baron Prentice of Daventry.