Baroness Nicholson returns to Tory fold 21 years after joining Lib Dems

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A former Liberal Democrat peer has joined the Conservatives, highlighting Theresa May's education plans as a reason for the switch.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, who quit the Lib Dems during Parliament's summer recess, said the Prime Minister's controversial schools shake-up showed a "real commitment to delivering for the next generation".

She had previously been a Tory MP before defecting to the Liberal Democrats in 1995 in a severe blow to John Major's government.

Lady Nicholson has returned to the party she quit more than two decades ago, welcoming the Prime Minister's plans for a new generation of grammar schools.

She said: "I am rejoining the Conservative Party with tremendous pleasure. My energies are dedicated to fighting for our new PM and her policies.

"Her education speech last week showed she leads a party with a real commitment to delivering for the next generation and building a country that works for everyone.

"We in the Conservative Party have a great history of diversity, optimism in our people's creativity and success.

"My greatest strengths are the Conservative strengths and I will be fighting for Britain from the Conservative benches from now on in."

A Liberal Democrat source said: "Emma told the party that she disagreed with the party's position on Europe. She left the party in July.

"Her comments about grammar schools are utterly, totally and completely untrue."