JEREMY Corbyn’s first big day of the election campaign was undermined after his only MP in Scotland seemingly told voters to back the Tories. According to The Guardian, Ian Murray has begged Tory voters for support in his marginal Edinburgh South seat in exchange for Labour backing Tory candidates standing against SNP MPs.
Murray supposedly told the paper he supported tactical voting to defeat the SNP, but said that meant Tory and LibDem voters had to switch sides, too, if their primary objective was to block the SNP.
“If people are saying we want to protect the Union, the candidate in the best position is me,” he said of his constituency in the capital where he defeated the SNP’s Neil Hay by 2600 votes in 2015.
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He later distanced himself from the paper’s report, saying he was merely “suggesting people vote Labour in both Edinburgh South and across Scotland”.
The SNP’s Angus Robertson called Murray’s plea “extraordinary” and accused the Labour MP of seeking to save “his own job at the expense of the whole country”. Roberston said: “Ian Murray is utterly apathetic to the prospect of keeping the Tories out of Downing Street – having made it clear that he doesn’t see Jeremy Corbyn as a legitimate candidate for Prime Minister while appealing for people to elect more Tory MPs in an effort to keep the SNP out.”
Meanwhile, Corbyn was also caught short by an argument over Labour’s policy on a second EU referendum. Reports suggested there was a split in the party over whether the public should be offered a vote on the final deal between the UK and Europe. Asked about whether he would go to voters, Corbyn replied: “EU negotiations are going on and we have set out our lines on negotiations, primarily it is about gaining and retaining tariff-free access to the European markets.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was asked to clarify and then refused 10 times to answer the question.
A spokesman for Corbyn later said: “A second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto.”
During his speech, Corbyn claimed a victory for Labour would “take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves”.
“If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour government,” he said.
“If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax-avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.
“Why? Because those are the people who are monopolising the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us in this country. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a contribution to make and a life to lead.”