Former Labour minister Ian Austin has urged voters to back Conservatives to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street after standing down at the general election.
Austin resigned from the party in February, citing a culture of “extremism and antisemitism,” after he was one of only three Labour MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal.
On Sky News on Thursday morning, he said: “I can’t believe it’s come to this, but I’ve got to be honest: I think Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to lead the Labour Party, I think he’s certainly unfit to lead the country.”
He added: “There are only two people who can be prime minister on 13 December. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it can’t be Jeremy Corbyn. On that basis, I think people should vote for Boris Johnson.”
In another interview with BBC Radio 4, he said: “I’m not a Tory. This isn’t where I want to be. I wouldn’t say Boris Johnson is unfit to be our prime minister in the way that I say that about Jeremy Corbyn… If you’re not going to do what’s right on a fundamental question like racism, what are you going to do it on?”
Austin’s adoptive father was a Czech Jew and the Dudley MP has supported several pro-Israel initiatives. This led to his appointment, in July of this year, as Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Israel.
Before his resignation, he spent three years being one of the Labour leader’s strongest challengers on antisemitism, but his pressure on the Department for International Development to withhold Palestinian aid angered Labour supporters.
Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein paid tribute to Austin, saying; “I want to put on record my heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Jewish community to my friend Ian Austin. In recent years Ian has displayed a level of moral courage missing from many others in politics. As the adopted son of a Holocaust survivor he knows more than most how dangerous anti-Jewish racism in our politics can be and he has done everything in his power, at great personal cost, to be true to himself, his values and what he knows to be right. Ian Austin will always have a home in our Jewish community. He is a tzadik and the country will be poorer without his straight talking, honest politics in Parliament.”