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IAN AUSTIN was slammed as a “treacherous hypocrite” by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey today, after the former Labour MP suggested that “decent traditional patriotic Labour voters” should vote Tory.
The MP for Dudley North, an independent appointed as prime ministerial trade envoy to Israel by Theresa May, said on BBC Radio 4 today that Boris Johnson was more fit to be PM than Jeremy Corbyn.
He also confirmed that he is not standing in next month’s general election. His 4,181 majority in 2015 shrunk to just 22 in the 2017 snap general election.
Mr McCluskey said that Mr Austin’s call for voters to choose the Tories in the December 12 general election is “no surprise” because the MP had “turned his back on Labour values many, many years ago.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was also unsurprised by Mr Austin’s latest attack on the Labour leader.
He said: “He’s now employed by the Tories. What else do you expect him to do in a general election campaign? When you’re employed by the Tories you speak on behalf of the Tories.”
Mr Austin, who is former press secretary to Gordon Brown, is also known for backing the Iraq war, calling Mr Corbyn an “anti-semite” and calling for immigrants to be denied benefits.
In 2016 he was reprimanded by the Commons Speaker for heckling Mr Corbyn, shouting: “Sit down and shut up” and “You’re a disgrace” when the Labour leader criticised the 2003 invasion of Iraq in his response to the publication of the Chilcot report.
John Woodcock, who announced this week that he would not stand for re-election in Barrow and Furness, also “pleaded” with Labour supporters to vote for the Conservative Party.
Mr Woodcock quit Labour with a scathing attack on Mr Corbyn’s leadership last year.
He had been sitting as an independent since having the Labour whip withdrawn in 2018 pending investigation of a sexual harassment allegation, which he denies.
The pro-Tory interventions came after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson announced on Wednesday night that he is standing down.
His Leave-voting constituency West Bromwich East is being contested by independent pro-Brexit candidate George Galloway.
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