Which MPs are likely to cross the floor?

People with a certain personality type may be more likely to switch their political allegiance, new research has suggested. Investigators from the University of Leicester have identified an archetype for a person who is prone to political defections.

Dr Alun Wyburn-Powell from Leicester's School of Historical Studies believes the most likely people to break political ranks over the last century have been male and wealthy.

He explained these individuals also tend to be divorced, well-educated, from a minority religion and either entered politics early or are senior officers in the army.

Published by Manchester University Press, his book Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910 to 2010: A Study of Inter-party Relationships notes that 53 per cent of defectors did so for better prospects, 43 per cent regarding policy and three per cent due to personalities.

Dr Wyburn-Powell observed studying past defections can help parties prevent them occurring again, adding: "Defections have never been comprehensively studied before and are not well understood by party leaders or commentators."

Chartered Psychologist Dr Roger Kingerlee adds: "Changing one's mind, politically or otherwise, is increasingly being recognised as an important skill, and certainly one of psychological interest. This historico-psychological research into the phenomenon of side-switching is therefore to be welcomed - with Sir Winston Churchill, of course, as its chief British exponent."