Keir Starmer: George Galloway fires warning ahead of by-election
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On July 1, Mr Galloway will stand for MP in the Batley and Spen by-election, running as a Workers Party Of Britain candidate. Labour won the seat in the 2019 general election by 3,525 votes.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the founder of the party and former MP for Bradford West has said he wants to win the seat to oust Sir Keir from his role as leader of the Labour Party.
In an interview with BBC politics editor Lewis Goodall, Mr Galloway said: “We want to play what could turn out to be a historic part in toppling him.
“He’s already under intense pressure within the Labour Party.
“If he loses heavily, or comes third in this by-election, I think he may well have to go.”
Mr Goodall pressed Mr Galloway on his opposition to Sir Keir, recalling the former MP planned to run in the cancelled 2017 Manchester Gorton by-election.
The BBC presenter noted “you were saying it was actually to help Jeremy Corbyn, even though he was on the left.
“So this time you’re standing to help the Labour Party to help getting rid of their leader who isn’t on the left?”
Mr Galloway responded by saying: “It’s not me that wants rid of their leader.”
Sir Keir has insisted the by-election is “not about me” despite Mr Galloway’s frequent comments on the Labour leader.
He said on June 10: “All of the candidates who are trying to make this by-election about me, about something else or a national issue are disrespecting the people of Batley and Spen.”
Labour look to hold Batley and Spen after a humiliating loss in Hartlepool in May, and have fielded Kim Leadbeater as their candidate.
Ms Leadbeater is the sister of former constituency MP Jo Cox, who was murdered on 16 June 2016.
The Conservatives are hopeful they can steal another ‘red wall’ seat, and have fielded Harewood councillor Ryan Stephenson as their candidate.
Speaking to Yorkshire Live, James Johnson, private pollster at JL Partners and former adviser to Theresa May, described Batley and Spen as “Red Wall 2.0 – that next tier of Labour held seats.”
He told the outlet: “One of the reasons Batley didn’t fall in 2019 and is 2.0 rather than 1.0 is because it doesn’t have quite as a high a Brexit party vote share, it has more people from different ethnic groups rather than people from white British backgrounds, and it is in an area that is more suspicious perhaps of the Conservatives.
“It’s in the second tier which is a much harder challenge for the Conservatives.”
Speaking about Mr Galloway potentially spoiling the by-election for Labour, Mr Johnson added: “Lots of people are very fed up.
“It is very easy to see George Galloway becoming that person for people who don’t like Labour but don’t want to vote Conservative.
“Although he didn’t do particularly well in Scotland where he last stood, he is noisy, he is on the ground and he also puts a lot of effort in – he doesn’t just sit back and pop up and do a few visits, he really goes for it.”
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