Vote Con­ser­va­tive, say Cor­byn rebels

Four for­mer Labour MPS say Op­po­si­tion leader is un­fit to be­come Prime Min­is­ter and party has been ‘poi­soned’

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Gor­don Rayner and Camilla Tominey

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.