The independent London newspaper

Emily Thornberry: ‘Islington will come back to Labour’

"Labour must campaign to remain"

28 May, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Islington South and Barnsbury MP Emily Thornberry


EMILY THORNBERRY said she is “100 per cent certain” residents will come back to Labour after choosing Lib Dems in the weekend’s EU elections.

The Islington South MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary for Labour wrote a letter to the Tribune following the EU parliament results which saw the Lib Dems secure 873 more votes compared to Labour.

Islington is usually considered a “safe” area for the Labour Party with just one opposition councillor at the Town Hall and the home to the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Thornberry said: “The people of Islington sent a strong message in these elections, and it is one that I have long been arguing myself: that we need to go back to the British people and give them the final say on whether we leave the EU on the terms proposed, or whether we remain.”

She also said Labour “must campaign” to remain in the EU.

“That message has been heard loud and clear in the wake of last week’s vote, and I am glad that Jeremy and others have now joined me in agreeing that we must have that confirmatory referendum, and that Labour must campaign to remain,” she said.

As reported in the Tribune last week, Labour activists in the borough faced a hard sell with residents saying they wanted to vote for a party who were “unequivocally” remain.

Just over 75 per cent of residents who voted in 2016’s EU referendum voted to remain.

Ms Thornberry added: “I know how hard these elections were for many lifelong Labour voters, who told me on the doorstep they would always vote Labour in a general election, but felt this was their one opportunity to protest at the lack of clarity in our position on a second referendum.

“Now we are finally providing the clarity they rightly deserve, I am 100 per cent certain those voters will come back to Labour whenever the next election comes, and they will certainly not be lending their votes again to the Liberal Democrats.”

Lib Dem activists at the Town Hall count on Sunday night: “We’re back”

She said that the “people of Islington have long memories” and added: “They remember how the Lib Dems cosied up to David Cameron and George Osborne in 2010, how they ditched their promises on tuition fees, and how they conspired with the Tories to wreak the devastation of austerity.”
Ms Thornberry continued to criticise the Lib Dems and the record in Islington and said: “And they [residents] will remember too how a Lib Dem-led council in Islington shamefully sold off land all across our borough for private development instead of using it to build the social housing that we so desperately need, which is why the Lib Dems now have not a single councillor in Islington.”

“Last week was a single-issue election, and Labour was punished for not having a clear enough message on that issue. We do now, and come the general election, we will not just campaign wholeheartedly for that second referendum, but for an end to austerity, for investment in our public services, and for a fairer Britain with an economy that works for everyone.

“That is the Britain Labour has always fought for as a party. That was the Britain the Lib Dems betrayed when they had their only shot at government. And come the general election, I know what the people of Islington will choose.”

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