Ian Austin

Ian Austin: patriotic Labour voters should back Boris Johnson

Ian Austin: patriotic Labour voters should back Boris Johnson
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The below is an edited transcript of Ian Austin's remarks on BBC Radio 4 Today.

I only wanted to be a Labour MP. And I only ever really want to be the Labour MP for Dudley. It's been such a huge privilege to do this job – a job I've loved, a place I love. But I've got to be honest with people: I'm not going to run in this election. The country faces a big choice. There's only two people can be prime minister on December the 13th: Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson. And I think Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead our country. Completely unfit to lead the Labour Party.

"Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead our country, completely unfit to lead the Labour party"

Ex-Labour, now independent MP Ian Austin urges Labour voters to support Boris Johnson. He will not stand in this election. #r4Today | https://t.co/XqLtLzIDg7 | @bbcnickrobinson pic.twitter.com/7KJcIAEp06

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 7, 2019

I joined the Labour Party as a teenager. I worked for the Labour Party in my 30s, I was a government adviser. In my 40s. I was an MP and a minister. So it has really come to something when I tell decent, traditional patriotic Labour voters that they should be voting for Boris Johnson at this election. I can't believe it's come to this, but that's where we are.

I think this is the choice the country faces. The British people are going to decide this. Lots of Labour voters, traditional decent Labour voters are going to be grappling with this question. And if they've got to face up to that, then I don't think people like me should have the luxury of running away from it. Look, I could just announce I'm standing down or disappear back to Dudley. You'd never hear from me again. But in the end, I think people who have put themselves forward for elected office, positions in politics, have a responsibility to stand up, tell the truth, do what's right. And this happened on our watch, right? We have responsibility. What Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party, I don't want him to be able to do to the country.

I think he's spent his entire time in politics working with and defending all sorts of people: extremists and in some cases anti-Semites and terrorists... I think in the end: I don't think he's a patriot. I don't think he loves his country. I think he always picks our country's enemies, whether that's the IRA during the Troubles or describing Hamas and Hezbollah as his friends or parroting Putin's propaganda when the Russians send hitmen to murder people on the streets of Britain. But most shamefully of all, for a party that's got a proud record of fighting for equality and opposing racism, the Labour Party has been poisoned with anti-Jewish racism under his leadership. And it is a complete and utter disgrace. It is a complete disgrace.

But look, of course, I'm not a Tory. This isn't where I want to be. I just think that, I wouldn't say Boris Johnson is unfit to be our prime minister in the way that I say that about Jeremy Corbyn. I think the country's got a big choice to make. And I think Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead it.

The Labour party has been my life. I can't believe it's come to this. But I have to tell the truth. I have to do what I think is right and it's a really difficult decision... I could have kept it all quiet and gone along with it all or disappeared back off to Dudley. But I think you've got to stand up and tell the truth. I think you've got to stand up and tell the truth. If you're not going to do what's right on a fundamental question like racism, what are you going to do it on?