Af­ter deputy leader walks out, fresh dis­as­ter for Cor­byn as his for­mer MPs back the To­ries

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Ja­son Groves and Daniel Martin

TWO for­mer Labour front­benchers yes­ter­day urged ‘pa­tri­otic’ vot­ers to back Boris John­son and save Bri­tain from Jeremy Cor­byn.

On a calami­tous day for Labour, Ian Austin and John Woodcock said the party’s leader was ‘not fit to be prime min­is­ter’ – and must be stopped from reach­ing Down­ing Street at all costs.

The pair, who both served as ad­vis­ers to Gor­don Brown in gov­ern­ment, sav­aged Mr Cor­byn’s record on se­cu­rity, the econ­omy and anti-Semitism – and even ques­tioned his pa­tri­o­tism.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ter­ven­tion at the launch of the cross-party Main­stream cam­paign against ex­trem­ism, the men said they would vote Con­ser­va­tive next month and urged oth­ers to do the same.

It came on a tu­mul­tuous day for Mr Cor­byn, with econ­o­mists sav­aging his party’s £400 bil­lion

‘There are only two peo­ple who can be PM: Jeremy Cor­byn or Boris John­son. And Cor­byn is com­pletely un­fit to lead our coun­try. I joined Labour as a teenager. In my 30s I was a gov­ern­ment ad­viser. In my 40s I was an MP and a min­is­ter. So it’s come to some­thing when I tell de­cent, pa­tri­otic Labour vot­ers that they should vote for Boris John­son at this elec­tion. I can’t be­lieve it... but that’s where we are IAN AUSTIN YES­TER­DAY

spend­ing plans and The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle pub­lish­ing a dev­as­tat­ing front-page ed­i­to­rial about Labour’s anti-Semitism cri­sis.

At least two Labour can­di­dates also found them­selves em­broiled in con­tro­versy, with one forced to quit.

But it was the ‘dev­as­tat­ing in­dict­ment’ of Mr Cor­byn’s char­ac­ter by two of his for­mer MPs that threat­ened to do the most dam­age to Labour’s elec­tion cam­paign.

Mr Austin, a for­mer Labour min­is­ter, said: ‘What Jeremy Cor­byn has done to the Labour Party, I don’t want him to be able to do that to the coun­try.

‘I don’t think he’s a pa­triot, I don’t think he loves this coun­try. He al­ways picks this coun­try’s en­e­mies – the IRA dur­ing the Trou­bles, or de­scrib­ing Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah as friends, or par­rot­ing [Vladimir] Putin’s pro­pa­ganda when the Rus­sians sent hit­men to mur­der peo­ple on the streets of Bri­tain.’

Mr Woodcock, a shadow min­is­ter un­der Ed Miliband, said: ‘Jeremy is sim­ply not fit to hold high of­fice in this coun­try.

‘Every­one is go­ing to have to make a choice... but for us, the choice to keep Jeremy Cor­byn away from Down­ing Street, to pre­vent him get­ting his hands on the levers of na­tional se­cu­rity and de­fence, has to be to vote Con­ser­va­tive in this elec­tion.’

Both men have quit the Labour Party since the 2017 elec­tion and have sat as in­de­pen­dents in re­cent months. Nei­ther is stand­ing in next month’s elec­tion.

Writ­ing in the Daily Mail to­day, Mr Austin says he feels a ‘pa­tri­otic duty’ to warn the pub­lic about the threat that Mr Cor­byn and his team of hard-Left al­lies would pose if they ever got their hands on power.

He also ap­peals to Nigel Farage to stand down his can­di­dates to pre­vent split­ting the vote and let­ting Mr Cor­byn in by the back door in an al­liance with the SNP. On a dra­matic day: Econ­o­mists warned Labour could ‘bank­rupt Bri­tain’ with a new plan to in­crease bor­row­ing by £55 bil­lion a year;

Chan­cel­lor Sa­jid Javid pledged to cut taxes if the To­ries win the elec­tion;

Labour’s Kate Rams­den quit as a can­di­date for Gor­don, Aberdeen­shire, over a so­cial me­dia post in which she likened Is­rael to a ‘child abuser’;

Fel­low Labour can­di­date Jane Aitchi­son was un­der pres­sure to quit af­ter ap­pear­ing to com­pare Tony Blair to Hitler;

Labour pre­pared to un­veil plans that will al­low mil­lions of em­ploy­ees to set their own work­ing hours – while it was claimed the party was also con­sid­er­ing giv­ing work­ers greater rights to de­ter­mine their own wages;

A bat­tle was un­der way to suc­ceed Tom Wat­son as Labour’s deputy leader, with Re­becca Long-Bai­ley, Laura Pid­cock and Dawn But­ler see­ing it as a step­ping stone to tak­ing over from Mr Cor­byn;

The To­ries were urged to sack a can­di­date who said women should ‘keep their knick­ers on’ to avoid be­ing raped.

Last night, for­mer Labour shadow min­is­ter Tom Har­ris said he was also back­ing the To­ries, ad­ding: ‘Like Ian Austin, I will be far hap­pier with a Boris John­son gov­ern­ment.’

Michael McCann, chair­man of the Scot­tish Par­lia­men­tary

Labour Party, told The Daily Tele­graph: ‘Politi­cians I would have aligned my­self with are all sit­ting in the cor­ner hid­ing and hop­ing Jeremy Cor­byn doesn’t no­tice them.

‘If th­ese peo­ple con­trib­ute to him be­com­ing prime min­is­ter then they are go­ing to have to an­swer to the elec­torate for the racism and eco­nomic van­dal­ism this mob are go­ing to wreak on this coun­try.’

The in­ter­ven­tion from Mr Austin and Mr Woodcock came af­ter the shock res­ig­na­tion of Mr Wat­son – re­garded as the last se­nior mod­er­ate in Mr Cor­byn’s shadow cab­i­net.

While he in­sisted his de­par­ture was ‘per­sonal’, Mr Austin and Mr Woodcock made an ex­plicit ap­peal to vot­ers to keep Mr Cor­byn out of of­fice.

Shadow busi­ness sec­re­tary Miss Long-Bai­ley said it was ‘no se­cret’ that Mr Austin ‘doesn’t like Jeremy’.

She added: ‘Vot­ing for Boris John­son if you are a Labour voter... is ab­so­lutely ab­surd.’

Chan­cel­lor Sa­jid Javid praised Mr Austin, ad­ding: ‘Ian is Labour to his core but knows that Jeremy Cor­byn is com­pletely un­fit to lead.’

Both Mr Austin and Mr Woodcock are va­cat­ing mar­ginal seats which are Tory tar­gets.

Mr Austin’s Dud­ley North has a Labour ma­jor­ity of only 22 and is a heav­ily Leavesup­port­ing area. Mr Woodcock had a ma­jor­ity of 209.

Mr Austin quit Labour in protest at Mr Cor­byn’s fail­ure to tackle the party’s an­tiSemitism cri­sis. Yes­ter­day he sug­gested the Labour leader was guilty of prej­u­dice.

He said: ‘Do I think Jeremy Cor­byn is per­son­ally an­ti­Semitic? I can’t look into his heart... but I cer­tainly think he has said and done things that are racist him­self.’

Trea­sury chief sec­re­tary Rishi Su­nak said Mr Austin’s com­ments were a ‘truly dev­as­tat­ing in­dict­ment of Jeremy Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship’.

Com­ment – Page 20

‘Truly dev­as­tat­ing in­dict­ment’

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