Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth confirm they’ll stand in General Election

Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth confirm they’ll stand in General Election

Jewish MPs gear up for snap poll after Theresa May announces plans to seek a national mandate in June

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Luciana Berger
Luciana Berger

Labour’s Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth have confirmed they will stand to defend their seats as the starting gun was fired on the next General Election.

Several serving MPs have already announced their intention not to seek re-election after Theresa May announced her intention to go to the country on 8 June. The prime minister said Westminster was failing to come together when stability was needed after the vote to leave the European Union.

Berger, who won Liverpool Wavertree with a majority of more than 24,000 and nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2015, was among the raft of Labour MPs who left Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet ahead of the last leadership contest.

With Labour 21 points behind in some of the latest polls, Smeeth will face an altogether tougher test in again seeking the nomination for Stoke on Trent Central, where she will defend a majority of just under 5,000.

Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, won a majority of nearly 6,000 at the last election and backed the prime minister’s decision to seek parliamentary backing for a new poll.

“The UK’s future relationship with the European Union is the most important political issue of the day,” he said. “With a strong mandate from the people of the United Kingdom, Theresa May will strengthen her negotiating hand in Europe at a time when division in Westminster risks damaging the progress of building a positive future UK-EU partnership.” The country, he said, faced a choice between strong government or an “unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn and propped up by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party?

Stressing his record in standing up for Jewish and other communities, he added: “The PM has been resolute on anti-semitism and extremism. Whilst the Labour Party appear to have been infiltrated by anti-semites and then failed to take any decisive action against them whilst the Lib Dems continue to have David Ward on the sidelines; the Jewish community know that in Theresa May and in me, they have a true friend and supporter.”

With support for Labour at an all-time low, he is likely to fancy his chances of extending his majority further, as will Matthew Offord in neighbouring Hendon, the other seat with the largest Jewish community in the UK.

Tulip Siddiq, who narrowly saw off a Conservative challenge at the last election, will seek a second term in Hampstead and Kilburn.

She said it had been the “greatest honour I could have wished for” to represent the constituency for the last two years, during which she’s challenged the premier at PMQs more than any other backbench MP. She said a “hard Brexit” must be rejected.

In a statement focusing on her record locally, she said: “It has been my absolute pleasure to attend countless festivals and celebrations in our local shuls and community centres. The age-old evil of anti-Semitism continues to blight our society, which is why it has been a privilege to shape Parliament’s response through my role as the Vice-Chair for the APPG on Antisemitism. Ahead of this general election, I hope that the Jewish Community across Hampstead and Kilburn will place their trust in me once again to represent them well in Westminster.”

Two years after seeing off the challenge of two-term MP Lee Scott, Ilford North’s Wes Streeting is likely to face another stern test. Scott told the Jewish News he has received more than 150 urging him to stand and was “seriously considering” doing so.

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