NOW LABOUR VETERANS PLEAD: VOTE FOR BORIS!
After deputy leader walks out, fresh disaster for Corbyn as his former MPs back the Tories
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’