Hartlepool humiliation looms for Starmer – Ex-Labour MP condemns Remainer nomination
Keir Starmer grilled on if he’ll resign if Labour loses Hartlepool
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And the former Labour MP for Vauxhall – who now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Hoey – said the “ridiculous” decision was evidence the party had left its core supporters behind. With a poll earlier this week suggesting Labour’s Dr Paul Williams is currently trailing Tory opponent Jill Mortimer by 17 points, Sir Keir has admitted the party is scrapping for every vote.
If the Conservatives manage to win that I think that will put huge pressure on the current Labour leader
However, Ms Hoey, who served as Labour’s Minister for Sport between 1999 and 2001, as well as in a number of other junior governmental roles, suggested he may say a heavy price for the party’s choice of candidate.
She told Express.co.uk: “If the Conservatives manage to win that I think that will put huge pressure on the current Labour leader.
“I don’t think it’s going to lead to any immediate demand for him to go or anything because it’s not really the person it’s the policies.”
Ms Hoey stressed: “I don’t always believe in opinion polls and I think it is going to be very close whatever happens.
“But generally speaking, I think far too many Labour MPs, the hierarchy of the party, still has an instinctive gut feeling about the European Union and the referendum.
“They may say that that has disappeared but they use every opportunity to have a go about it.
“They can’t go on anymore about the country falling to pieces if we leave the EU because clearly we have done better than many others and that’s despite COVID.”
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Ms Hoey, who unlike the majority of Labour MPs campaigned for Leave five years ago, described the selection of Dr Williams as “disappointing”, adding: “Why choose a Remainer? Unbelievable – I thought that was the most crass decision they could possibly have made.
“There are still a lot of very loyal Labour voters aren’t there, and I suppose they could still win it and if they do presumably they will try to say Brexit is no longer an issue.
“But I just thought it was an insult to the people to choose someone like him who wasn’t just a Labour MP following the party line in a half-hearted way, he was a very adamant and active proponent of staying in the EU.
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“I am sure he was quite scathing about some of the people who voted to leave.”
Had Labour genuinely wanted to move on from Brexit, they would have been better off choosing somebody who, while not necessarily a committed Brexiteer, would have taken a more nuanced view, Ms Hoey stressed.
She explained: “I don’t think they’ve have had a problem finding one – there are an awful lot of people genuinely who were Remainers but who have now accepted the result.”
Sir Keir had been instrumental in the decision to commit Labour to a second referendum, Ms Hoey pointed out, which in turn prompted her to quit the party once and for all.
She added: “So Keir has ultimate responsibility of convincing people that Labour has changed and I don’t think he’s done that.
“If they lose Hartlepool it kind of shows that it wasn’t just Jeremy Corbyn that lost the last general election.”
Speaking today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Obviously we’re fighting for every vote in Hartlepool but these are tough contests.
“And Hartlepool in particular – that hasn’t been a Conservative seat since its inception, 46 years ago or whatever it was. So I think that will be a very tough fight.”
Speaking yesterday, Sir Keir pledged to take responsibility “whatever the results are”.
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