Diane Abbott predicts the Tories will fight a ‘very unpleasant’ election campaign
Diane Abbott has predicted that the Conservatives will run a “very unpleasant” general election campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.
The Shadow Home Secretary said voters face a choice between a “xenophobic hard Brexit” under Theresa May, or one that protects jobs and living standards with Mr Corbyn as prime minister.
She also stressed that Labour would come out “fighting” to win the election, argued voters would “come behind us” and played down the party’s dismal performance in the polls.
The Prime Minister announced outside Number 10 this morning that she intends to hold an early general election on 8 June.
Speaking to the World at One, Ms Abbott said Labour had in recent weeks unveiled policies that were popular with the electorate, and insisted the party was ready to fight the election.
“Now we are in a general election campaign, and people have got to make a choice between Theresa May’s Britain and Jeremy Corbyn’s Britain,” she said.
“They need to make a choice between an unpleasant, xenophobic, hard Brexit, and a Brexit that will protect jobs and living standards.
“There’s no question in my mind the Tories will fight a very unpleasant campaign and the electorates going to have to make a choice.”
Two polls at the weekend had Labour 21 points behind the Conservatives, despite a new survey indicating public backing for the party’s recent policy blitz with proposals on free school meals, among others.
Ms Abbott, who entered Parliament in 1987, said previous predictions of Labour's demise had failed to materialise.
“I was an MP in the 80s and people said we were finished then, people said the SDP was going to be the natural party of government, it wasn’t true then, it’s not true now,” she said.
“My point is this, the Labour party has a history, it has a base, it has values and the Westminster elite may try to knock us out, but out in the country I think they’re going to be prepared to listen to what we have to say.”
She added: “We are ready for this general election now. And I believe the British public is ready to listen to what we have to say. Faced with Theresa May’s Britain, faced with the sort of Britain that Theresa May and her colleagues want to bring about, and faced with our positive offer: a more equal Britain, a fairer Britain, a Brexit that protects jobs and living standards, I believe the British people will come behind us.”
In a post on his Facebook page fellow frontbencher Richard Burgon said the early vote grants the people of his Leeds constituency the opportunity to send a message to the Government that has “treated them like dirt”.
A sign of potential battle lines to come were demonstrated in Mrs May’s speech this morning, in which she said voters faced a choice between “strong” leadership under the Tories and Labour “propped up” by other parties including the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.
Elsewhere, it has emerged that Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist, has been hired once more by the Conservatives to help run the party's election campaign.
This morning Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said he would not stand for re-election moments after Mrs May announced plans to push for a snap vote, citing irreconcilable differences with the Labour leadership.