THE hard-right MP Natalie Elphicke is a “good, natural fit” for Labour, the party’s chair has said.

It comes after Elphicke, who is known for her hardline stance on immigration and for trying to influence a judge overseeing the case of her sex offender ex-husband, defected to Labour on Wednesday.

Elphicke crossed the floor of the House of Commons just before Prime Minister’s Questions, and images of her and Labour leader Keir Starmer smiling and shaking hands were released later.

The defection has been met with shock on both sides, with many Tory MPs considering her to be on the hard-right of their party – and Labour MPs surprised that her defection would be accepted by their party leader.

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn gives perfect response to Tory MP's defection to Labour

But on Thursday, Labour chair Anneliese Dodds insisted Elphicke was a “good, natural fit” for Labour.

The BBC has reported that top advisers in the party were “jubilant” because Elphicke's Dover constituency is seen as key to Rishi Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” – and her defection undermines his rhetoric on the issue.

Elphicke’s former husband and predecessor as MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women and sentenced to two years in prison.

Elphicke ended the marriage after his conviction but supported his unsuccessful appeal, saying he had been “attractive, and attracted to women” and “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations”.

The National: Anneliese Dodds said her thoughts were with the man’s family and friends

Asked about those comments, Dodds (above) told Times Radio: “Of course, this is an incredibly serious issue and there was a judicial process, quite rightly, around that sexual assault.

“There was accountability for Natalie Elphicke in the fact that there was a parliamentary process around this.

“Now, it’s quite right that there was a parliamentary process, as I say Natalie Elphicke has gone through that, and I believe that she has addressed this in Parliament and in public, and rightly so, because this is a very serious subject.”

The Labour Party chair was also asked on BBC Radio 4 about Elphicke’s past comment that footballer Marcus Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time on politics after England lost in the European Championship.

“My understanding is that Natalie, I think, rightly apologised for those unacceptable comments about Marcus Rashford,” Dodds said.

READ MORE: Labour faces backlash after Natalie Elphicke defects from Tories

Elphicke had previously criticised Labour’s immigration policy but said on Wednesday that under Starmer, the party has changed. She said the “key deciding factors” in her defection were housing issues and “the safety and security of our borders”.

Dodds told BBC Breakfast that she believes Elphicke is a good fit for Labour and said that “people can change their minds”.

“Natalie Elphicke is taking the same decision as so many other former Conservative supporters up and down the country” by switching her allegiance to Labour, Dodds said.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan meanwhile said Elphicke (below) was a “very odd fit” for the Labour Party considering the Dover MP’s views on immigration.

The National: Natalie Elphicke has defected to Labour from the Tories (David Woolfall/UK Parliament)

Asked if she feared other Tory MPs could follow and defect, Keegan told Times Radio that she hoped most of her other colleagues were “more principled than that”.

She said it was not clear what deal Elphicke had made to cross the floor to Labour and there is “all kinds of speculation” as to why she would do so.

“So, I don’t really know her very well but clearly she has had a massive 180 degree change in some of her views miraculously, I guess overnight, and I’m not 100% sure how you can change your views and principles that quickly,” Keegan said.

Elphicke is standing down at the General Election, and Labour have denied she was offered a peerage to defect.