Former Labour MP Ivan Lewis urged voters in Chipping Barnet to back the Tories, as he joined local candidate Theresa Villiers on the campaign trail this week.
Supporting the environment secretary on the doorstep, the kippah-wearing ex-Labour minister called on constituents to defend her slender 2017 majority of just 353 votes on 12 December.
“If you vote for anything other than Theresa and the Conservative Party, the risk is you allow Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate in”, he said.
“I never thought this day would come, but this is not the Labour Party that I joined. It’s not the Labour Party of my parents, and my grandparents.”
Lewis said he came to this view “at my own hustings in my constituency last week. The first question came from a Kindertransport survivor, who said ‘I’ve supported you for 22 years in every election, but please in this election stand aside for the Conservative Party.’ That made me think a lot. So, I feel I’m doing what’s right.”
“The biggest single issue in this election is stopping Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister of the country. He has turned the party of equality and anti-racism into an institutionally antisemitic party”.
He was suspended from Labour over sexual harassment claims in 2017, which he denied, and resigned his membership a year later. He is now standing as an independent in Bury South, which he has represented since 1997, but urged voters to back the Tories in order to keep Labour out.
On whether he would ever re-join Labour, he said: “I have no way of answering that”, saying two things need to change “to even contemplate” it, namely, a change of leadership and reversing the “takeover” of the party by Momentum.
Villiers said Lewis had “been incredibly brave” in coming to campaign for her, calling it “a big boost.. to have someone of Ivan’s stature and courage come to make the case on the doorstep.”
She said: “This is one of the constituencies which will determine whether we have a Conservative government or a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn”.