JEREMY CORBYN yesterday faced the wrath of two ex-Labour MPs labelling him a ‘disgrace’ — and urging voters to back Boris Johnson instead.
Ian Austin and John Woodcock, who gave a joint press conference, both said their former party’s leader could not be trusted with the keys to No.10.
Ex-culture minister Mr Austin, who quit Labour in February in protest at a ‘culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance’, said Mr Corbyn was ‘completely unfit’ to lead Britain.
Mr Woodcock, who had the party whip withdrawn last year, said: ‘The choice to keep Jeremy Corbyn away from Downing Street, to keep him away from the levers of national security and defence, has to be to vote Conservative. And that’s what I’ll be doing as well.’
Mr Corbyn said the pair had betrayed voters after being elected Labour MPs in 2017. ‘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,’ he added.
Dudley MP Mr Austin, who has sat as an independent since leaving Labour, will not be contesting the seat he has held since 2005.
The adopted son of a Jewish refugee who escaped the Holocaust, he has been appointed UK trade envoy to Israel.
The 54-year-old said: ‘I joined the Labour Party as a teenager so it has really come to something when I tell decent traditional patriotic Labour voters that they should be voting for Boris Johnson.
‘There are only two people who can be prime minister on December 13 and that’s Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson.
‘And I think Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead our country and lead the Labour Party.’
Mr Woodcock, who will not be fighting the Barrow and Furness seat he has held since 2010, agreed that only Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn can become PM.
He pleaded with Labour voters to jump ship and not ‘leave it until too late’. The 41-year-old has sat as an independent since losing the party whip in April last year over sexual harassment allegations against him, which he denies.
Former Labour MP Tom Harris, who was a transport minister under Tony Blair, said he would also be ‘far happier’ with Mr Johnson than Mr Corbyn.
Sympathising with Mr Austin, he told Sky News: ‘There should be some understanding of why someone with Jewish heritage simply cannot bring themselves to support this party.’
The attacks on Mr Corbyn came hours after his deputy Tom Watson announced he would step down as an MP.
The ex-minister, elected by members to the No.2 post and seen as a figurehead for Corbyn opponents in the party, said he had quit for personal reasons.
But Mr Austin asked: ‘If Tom thought that Jeremy Corbyn was fit to lead our country and fit to form a government, would he really be standing down?’
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, called Mr Austin a ‘treacherous hypocrite’.
And the shadow chancellor John McDonnell referred to the trade envoy role by claiming: ‘When you are employed by the Tories you speak for the Tories.’