Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has said his party is no longer made up “retired colonel types” with “horrendous” views.
The Lichfield MP has also revealed that the Labour Party unsuccessfully attempted to persuade him to cross the floor of the Commons and join its ranks shortly after the 1997 Labour landslide.
Elected to Parliament in 1992, Mr Fabricant told the Express and Star: “A lot of the Conservative Parliamentary Party in 92 were in my view horrendous. A lot of them were all retired colonel types, their attitudes were from the 30s and 40s and they hadn’t moved with society.
“And while I think Tony Blair did the country a whole lot of damage, I remember him saying vividly during PMQs in opposition ‘the Conservative Parliamentary Party are made up of xenophobes, homophobes and misogynists’.
“I remember shouting out ‘well I’m not’ and he shouted back ‘well maybe not the Honourable Member for Lichfield but the rest of them are.
“Which was a little unfair by him because he was generalising but the parliamentary party was very different back them.”
The MP continued: “Shortly after Labour won in 97 – and I’m very proud of the fact I hung on to my seat in ’97 because I was defending a notional majority of 4,000 and Conservative MPs with a majority of 18,000 were losing their seats – I was invited to Number 10, and I won’t say the exact details, but someone said ‘Michael why don’t you join us as you’re obviously New Labour? You’re not like the Conservatives’.
“And I said I may not be like the parliamentary party was or is but I am a Conservative. I am a New Conservative. And he said is there even such a thing as New Conservative and I said ‘well maybe if I stay in the party there will be’.”
He added: “And you know the party has moved with the times – and quite rightly too because political parties should reflect society.”
However, 134 Tories voted against and a further 35 did not vote at all.