Former Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock are voting Tory to keep out Corbyn


Two former Labour MPs say they will be voting Tory to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.

Ian Austin who was the MP for Dudley North and John Woodcock who represented Barrow and Furness are both now backing Boris Johnson’s party.

They also said that Nigel Farage needed to consider dropping candidates because his Brexit Party could help Mr Corbyn get to Downing Street.

Speaking at the launch of posters for his Mainstream campaign against extremism, Ian Austin said: “It’s really come to something when people like us have to say that we think Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to lead the Labour Party.”

He added: “I’ll be voting Conservative in this election, and my personal view… is that the country faces a stark choice.

“There’s only two people who can be prime minister on December 13. Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn.”

He continued: “On that basis I’ll be voting for Boris Johnson.”

Ian Austin and John Woodcock at the launch of Mainstream

 

John Woodcock, who is not standing again for parliament because he is expecting a baby with partner Isabel Hardman, said: “There has been an argument, there’s going to continue to be an argument about what was the best way to drag the Labour Party out of the extremism that have taken hold in it.

“But we’ve run out of road. It’s a general election and the choice is what is on the table it’s not what lots of people it could have been and while people may have different options in their own constituencies – I wish really fell some of my friends who are standing as independents in particular areas, there are particular Liberal Democrats I hope are successful I hope they grow their presence in parliament but this is going to come down to a choice after the election.

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“One of two people are going to be working into Downing Street it’s going to be Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson.

“Jeremy Corbyn is fundamentally unfit to hold any high office.”

Asked how they could have stood on a Labour ticket in 2017 with Corbyn as leader, the two men said they did not think Labour would win.

Mr Austin said: “Theresa May called the general election because she was 20 points ahead and she thought she would walk it, the press did, the polls did, every Labour MP thought it too and we spent the whole time saying ‘don’t worry about that’. 

“We made this clear and everybody knew what we thought about him then.


“I don’t think that excuse works now and he did unexpectedly better.

“If Boris Johnson doesn’t get an overall majority then clearly the SNP are going to back Jeremy Corbyn and I think the pressure on the Lib Dems is going to be massive and if it comes down to Boris Johnson and Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn and a second referendum – how are they going to be able to withstand that.” 

“I can’t believe I’ve left the Labour Party to fight racism and I’m now advocating voting Tory to stop racism”.

Mr Austin said: “I think it’s going to take a miracle and a long time to solve this thing.”

Mr Woodcock accused many of his former parliamentary colleagues of being “supine” despite complaining to him in private.


 

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Asked about Tory Islamophobia he said: “They’ve got their own problems and they’ve got to deal with that of course they have but Sajid Javid is not being chased out of the Tory party by racists the way that Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman were.

“I’m not here to defend them, I’m not a Tory. In the Labour party it’s an institutional problem it goes from the leadership downwards. The Tories have got to deal with their thing but I don’t think it’s on the same scale.”

“I’m decent, proper, traditional, patriotic Labour that’s what I am

But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he was not surprised claiming Ian Austin was now “employed by the Tories”.

“He’s now employed by the Tories: what else do you expect him to do in an election campaign where you’re employed by the Tories, you speak on behalf of the Tories. That’s what this was about this morning.”

 

Mr McDonnell said there were only a “tiny number” of members – a tenth of one per cent – accused of anti-Semitism.

He added: “How dare the Tories raise the issue of racism at all when they have a leader who has consistently in his journalistic career written statements which are racist in themselves?”

Mr Austin hit back telling the Mirror: “It is completely untrue.

“I was appointed as an unpaid trade envoy.

“There are 27 MPs and peers from all parties promoting trade and exports to different countries including, for example, Rushanara Ali, so it is completely and utterly untrue.”

Prominent Conservatives have praised former Labour MP Ian Austin for his “courage” and “bravery” after he decided to encourage voters to back Boris Johnson instead of Jeremy Corbyn.

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Chancellor Sajid Javid called Mr Austin “a brave man”, tweeting: “Ian is Labour to his core, but knows that Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also wrote about Mr Austin on Twitter , saying the “passionate ex-Labour MP” articulated “the dangers posed by Jeremy Corbyn”.

Former Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt tweeted: “As Foreign Secretary I worked with IanAustin1965 to honour the memory of unsung hero & British intelligence officer Frank Foley who saved the lives of many Jews in WW2.

John McDonnell said Ian Austin was “employed by the Tories”

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General election 2019

  

“Today Ian too has shown great courage in speaking out and I am honoured to know him.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “Ian Austin, 1 year as a junior minister at DCLG, says he won’t vote for Labour. Wall-to-wall coverage.

“Ken Clarke, 9 years as Secretary of State, including as Chancellor, says he won’t vote for the Conservatives. Silence. Balanced election coverage?”

Earlier in the week, Mr Clarke, who is stepping down as an MP after 49 years, told Channel 4 News he may not vote for the Conservatives if the party pursued a “crazy right-wing nationalist” agenda.

Addressing criticisms of failing to tackle anti-Semitism made by ex-MP Ian Austin and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, Labour said the party had made “absolutely clear anti-Semitism has no place” in its ranks.

“Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, hatred and bigotry,” said a party spokesman.

“He has made it absolutely clear that anti-Semitism has no place in our party and society, and that no one who engages in it does so in his name.

“The Labour Party is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community.”





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