ED Balls has been panned for defending Keir Starmer’s decision to welcome Tory defector Natalie Elphicke into the Labour Party.

We told last week how the MP for Dover crossed the floor shortly before PMQs, hitting out at Rishi Sunak’s government in the process.

Since her defection, the new Labour MP has been forced to apologise for comments she made supporting her ex-husband after he was convicted of sexual assault.

Charlie Elphicke was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women and was sentenced to two years in jail. 

Although Labour’s newest MP ended the marriage, she supported his unsuccessful appeal, saying Elphicke had been “attractive, and attracted to women” and that he was an “easy target for dirty politics and false allegations”.

Elphicke has also denied allegations that she lobbied the justice secretary in 2020 to interfere in her then-husband's trial. 

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, former shadow chancellor Ed Balls defended the defection, which reportedly left one Labour MP in tears.

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“Fundamentally, I think if you’re Keir Starmer and the MP for Dover is willing to join your party to say the Sunak small boats policy is failing and she had voted against it,” he said.

“I think in the previous week she had voted against the government on the Rwanda policy, I think in the end you think well you know if she’s willing to do that journey…”

Balls then turned the conversation to Nigel Farage (below), claiming that he believes Keir Starmer would welcome an endorsement from the former Ukip leader although conceded he wouldn’t pick him as a candidate.

The National: Coming to Southend - Nigel Farage.

It was then put to Balls by associate editor of the Daily Mirror Kevin Maguire that Elphicke also took a “cheap shot” at England footballer Marcus Rashford.

In 2021, she said the footballer’s campaigning on food poverty was “playing politics” and, following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, she said: “They lost – would it be ungenerous to say Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game time and less time playing politics,” although later apologised for this.

In response, Balls said: “So she did apologise. And she’s voted against the Rwanda policy and she’s obviously now is horrified about what happened about her husband and the abuse which occurred which I think is far more complex than any of us probably know.”

A number of people took to social media to criticise Balls with one Twitter/X user claiming he had "no principles at all".

The Newham Independents account meanwhile said: “The problem with Ed Balls commentary is he thinks that Natalie Elphicke has said she was wrong and that she has changed her views on certain topics.

“When in fact it’s not her who’s changed but the Labour Party she has now joined.”

Another questioned “in what world is any of this defence of Elphicke by a ‘tv presenter' ok” while another described his comments as “abhorrent”.