Politics in the UK turned farcical last week when Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative member for Dover, defected to the Labour Party. In the jargon, she crossed the floor and sat among Labour MPs on the opposition benches in the UK legislative assembly.

It was an embarrassing event even by the low standards of the present UK parliament. As a colleague in the Conservative said of her politics, “there is no space to the right of Natalie.” The right-wing Conservative MP, Jacob Rees Mogg, known affectionately as the member for the 19th century, added that her politics are to the right of his own.

But she was welcomed by the current Labour leadership, although for backbench Labour MPs it looked more like the leadership had set a cat among the pigeons. Many members of the party in and out of parliament questioned why good socialist left wingers like Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbot are excluded from their ranks while this right-wing Conservative rodent has been allowed to join with political baggage, most of it at odds with basic Labour Party principles.

She said that she will not stand again but why switch so near a general election – expected in the Autumn – if she has no further political ambition? Why not go quietly? Her motives are suspect, as are the motives of the Labour Party leadership for taking her in without properly checking her politics. She was the second MP to defect to Labour in as many months. The other was Dr Dan Poulter MP, but he is a medical man and did it out of concern for the National Health Service that the Conservative government has allowed to atrophy over the last 14 years.

The best-known rat in British politics was Winston Churchill who crossed the floor and joined the Liberal party in 1904 and remained a member until 1924 when he rejoined the Conservatives.

He was forgiven and became a Conservative economics minister in 1924 shortly after re-ratting. He spent most of the 1930s in the wilderness until he joined the war cabinet on the outbreak of World War II in 1939 as navy minister and then prime minister in 1940.

As an expert on ratting and re-ratting Churchill, is reputed to have said, playfully, “anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.”

Churchill also explained the choices open to MPs contemplating crossing the floor incisively when he said: “some change their party for the sake of their principles; others change their principles for the sake of their party.” So, there you have it. Natalie Elphicke is no Winston Churchill, but her politics suggest she is likely to re-rat assuming the Conservatives are not wiped out at the next election in in the Autumn – a distinct possibility if you believe the opinion polls.

Alas there are no aphorisms for political parties that change their principles to welcome right-wing rats into their ranks. The Labour Party is famously a broad church – or a big tent if you prefer. But that does not mean that anyone can join just because they cross the floor and there are tactical reasons for letting them join. The fact that a right-wing Conservative has been allowed to join the Labour Party raises serious questions about its future as a principled progressive force on the left of British politics. It is after all a party of the left – the party of Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot and Tony Benn and Barbara Castle and the much-maligned Jeremy Corbyn.

If Labour forms the next government, it will have the same economic policy and the same foreign policy as the present government. People will vote Labour because they are fed up with the Conservatives, but they do not just want a change of personnel when the UK needs a change of direction – a new direction away from the broken Britain the Conservatives will leave behind.

There has been an unforgivable lack of investment in the UK’s infrastructure that needs the state to step in and fix. An incoming Labour government will be expected to rebalance British society and they better come up with radical policies rather than aping the Conservatives for fear of the UK’s right-wing press – to hell with the right-wing press, the young do not read its organs anymore.

But even more important is the need for a change of foreign policy away from wasting taxpayers’ money on foreign wars and a need to reassess whether Russia and China pose the existential threat the people have been misled to believe. The threat to Britain from these two countries is a myth from a bygone time – a hangover from the Cold War.

At the behest of the US, Nato blundered into expansion eastwards after Russia’s velvet withdrawal from Europe in 1991 and crossed a Russian red line in Ukraine which, rightly or wrongly, Russia regards as historically a special country – much like the UK regards Scotland special. Soviet Russia had disengaged peacefully from Europe and Asia in 1991 and there is no evidence to suggest that she poses a threat to Britain and Europe – the evidence of Nato expansion eastwards points the other way.

China transitioned into a socialist market economy to the benefit of the West and the wider world and has been a spectacular success story which should be celebrated rather than demonised and labelled an enemy when until recently it was a vital trading partner.

The West needs to stop preaching to other states. It does not practice an ethical foreign policy that the late Labour UK foreign minister Robin Cook sought to practice. The rest of the world is tired of the West’s double standards and is no longer listening.

Alper Ali Riza is a king’s counsel in the UK and retired part time judge