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Thornberry: ‘This is not a presidential election’

06 December, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Emily Thornberry speaking at the Islington South hustings

CANDIDATES were forced to defend their party leaders at a hustings event this week but shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry warned voters that next week’s poll is “not a presidential election”.

The Islington South candidates were asked how “closely aligned” they were to their party leaders at the debate at St Mary’s Church in Angel on Tuesday evening.

Ms Thornberry, who holds the seat with a majority of just over 20,000, was asked to comment on Jeremy Corbyn who she has disagreed with on the party’s stance on Brexit.

She said: “Jeremy and I are good friends and we have been for a long time. I agree with his politics and I agree with his outlook and I am very proud to be part of his team. We have discussions on issues behind closed doors which can be heated at times.

“He is a man who works collectively. He isn’t a president. He doesn’t have a presidential style.”

She added: “This is not a presidential election. When people vote in these elections they are voting for Labour and the named candidate on the ballot paper. They are voting for a team and we are a team.”

The Brexit Party’s candidate, Paddy Hannam, said: “I don’t know Nigel [Farage] well. He’s not my mate. We’re not standing with any expectation of forming a government or a coalition. In that sense you’re not going to be looking at Nigel Farage as deputy prime minister.”

The Liberal Democrat Kate Pothalingam said that she was part of a group of people who had joined the party after the 2016 Brexit referendum.

She emphasised that she was part of a “new generation” of Lib Dems, and not tied to those who shared the coalition government with the Tories.

She said: “I think Jo [Swinson] is interesting. She is remarkable in that she is 39 and has two ­children under five and she is doing her absolute best to do the best for the country. Sometimes people have an issue with young women trying to do something like that. It feels to me there is a little tiny bit of sexism in their judgment.”

Jason Charalambous, of the Conservative Party, said he had known Boris Johnson for years and that he was a “good man” who “cares about everybody in this country”.

The hustings had been organised by the Islington Gazette newspaper.

The Green’s Talia Hussain said that she did not know Jonathan Bartley, who co-leads the party, and that he had “put his foot in it this week” when he said in a TV interview he would ban halal meat.

She added: “He immediately apologised which I really respect.”

Of the Greens’ other co-leader, Sian Berry, Ms Hussain said that she does “amazing work” as a member of the Greater London Authority.

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