Vote Conservative, say Corbyn rebels
Four former Labour MPS say Opposition leader is unfit to become Prime Minister and party has been ‘poisoned’
JEREMY CORBYN has been branded “unfit to lead” by four senior former Labour MPS who have taken the unprecedented step of telling “patriotic” voters to back Boris Johnson.
The lifelong Labour supporters, three of whom are former ministers or frontbenchers, said Mr Corbyn was “a menace” as well as “a disgrace to his party and a disgrace to this country”.
They said it was “too big a risk” to allow the Labour leader to “get his hands on the levers of national security and defence” and all four said they would vote Conservative on Dec 12.
The extraordinary intervention by Ian Austin, John Woodcock, Tom Harris and Michael Mccann came less than 24 hours after Tom Watson resigned as Labour’s deputy leader.
Their comments laid bare the deep divisions in Labour on Brexit and antisemitism that have plunged the party into crisis at the start of the election campaign. They also fuelled continued speculation that other Labour moderates could quit the party to undermine Mr Corbyn in the coming weeks.
The anti-semitism row deepened yesterday as a Labour parliamentary candidate quit after it emerged she compared the Israeli state to a child abuser, and another candidate came under pressure to step down after saying she would “celebrate” the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Jewish Chronicle newspaper, meanwhile, devoted its front page to an appeal to voters of all religions not to support Labour.
Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph,
Mr Austin, who served as communities minister under Gordon Brown, says: “I could not stand by as the Labour Party has been poisoned by racism, extremism and intolerance under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
“I do not believe Jeremy Corbyn loves this country. He and the people around him always seem to back our country’s enemies – whether that’s the IRA when they were murdering people in shopping centres, hotels and pubs, terrorist groups like Hamas and Hizbollah or even parroting Putin’s propaganda when he tried to murder people here in Britain.”
Mr Mccann, a former chairman of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party, said Mr Corbyn and John Mcdonnell, the shadow chancellor, “will destroy our country, and our country’s standing in the world. They are not patriots. They are a menace”.
He added: “I know of long-term members of the Labour Party who were in high office – I’m talking about people you’d not believe in terms of big names, heavyweight Labour figures – who are not going to vote Labour.
“These are people who served under Blair and Brown. Some will vote Lib Dem but others will be voting Conservative.” Earlier this year, Jack Straw, the former home secretary, said he was “having doubts” about voting Labour while Mr Corbyn was leader, and this week he said other countries would be less likely to share intelligence if Mr Corbyn became prime minister.
Mr Mccann added: “I hear John Mcdonnell claiming that the Labour Party should be held up as a beacon of how to deal with anti-semitism and I feel physically sick to my stomach.”
He also accused Labour moderates of “waving the white flag” to Mr Corbyn. He said: “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.”
Mr Harris, a transport minister under Mr Blair and Mr Brown, also said he would vote Conservative. He said: “I love my country too much to put Labour Party before country. Corbyn represents a genuine threat to the security of the nation and the security of our Jewish population. I cannot vote for him.”
Mr Woodcock, a former shadow transport minister, said the party had “left it until too late” to act against Mr Corbyn, adding: “The choice to keep Jeremy Corbyn away from Downing Street, to stop him getting his hands on the levers of national security and
defence has to be to vote Conservative in this election and that’s what I’ll be doing.” Mr Woodcock and Mr Austin unveiled a campaign poster yesterday stating: “Jeremy Corbyn: A disgrace to his party, a disgrace to this country.”
Mr Austin, whose father was a Jewish refugee, said: “I am appalled and ashamed that a party that has had such a proud tradition of fighting racism has caused huge offence and distress to the Jewish community.”
He also said it was “a fantasy” to suggest Mr Corbyn could negotiate a good Brexit deal if the EU knew it would be put to a second in-out referendum.
Labour responded to Mr Austin and Mr Woodcock’s comments by trying to smear the two men. Mr Mcdonnell said Mr Austin, an unpaid government trade envoy to Israel, was “employed by the Tories” and therefore “what else do you expect him to do?” On Twitter, Corbyn supporters made a series of lurid allegations against Mr Woodcock.
Mr Corbyn said: “They’ve chosen to walk away and call for people to vote Tory, to vote for austerity and vote for all the inequality this Tory government has brought to Britain.”
Meanwhile, a former Communist aide to Mr Corbyn has denied being a Russian spy. There were reports this week that Andrew Murray, chief of staff to Len Mccluskey, the Unite leader, could be banned from seeing sensitive documents if he got a job in No 10 should Labour win the election.
He told Chopper’s Election Podcast: “In the Eighties and beyond I was a member of the Communist Party, I’m not ashamed of that. But it must occur to MI5, that the country I was supposed to have a loyalty to, the Soviet Union, no longer exists and hasn’t for 30 years.”
Ian Austin and John Woodcock unveil a campaign billboard calling on voters to shun Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour