IAN AUSTIN, former Labour MP and aide to Gordon Brown, was on the verge of breaking down in tears in an interview with Sky News’ Kay Burley as he revealed he would turn his back on Labour at the next general election.
The former press secretary to Gordon Brown said he was “heartbroken” about having to urge Labour voters to support Boris Johnson. He admitted some of his friends would stop speaking to him for voting Tory at the next general election after years of serving the Labour Party. Mr Austin said he would have never imagined he would have to turn his back on his beloved party but he could not bring himself to support Jeremy Corbyn, who he claimed would be a “disaster” for the UK.
He said: “Look, I’m not a Conservative, this is not where I want to be, it’s the last thing I thought could happen.
“I spent my life in the Labour Party. Some friends of mine probably won’t speak to me.
“But look, it’s not about me, alright.”
Asked if he was “upset” he said: “Yeah, it’s a massive thing. It’s a massive thing. I could have not believed that he would come to this.”
Ms Burley commented: “You seem quite broken by it.”
He replied: “It’s heartbreaking. I think what’s happened to the Labour Party is heartbreaking, I’ll be honest about it.
“I think it’s a disaster. I think it’s a disaster for the Labour Party. And it’s a disaster for our country.”
During the emotional interview, he explained his reasons for the dramatic intervention.
Insisting Jeremy Corbyn had “poisoned” the Labour Party, Mr Austin added: “In the end, we have allowed this to happen in the Labour Party.
“And we have got to take responsibility for it. I do not want Jeremy Corbyn to do to the country what I think he has done to the Labour Party.
“I think the Labour Party has been poisoned with extremism, intolerance and anti-Semitism under his leadership.”
In a separate email with BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Austin suggested “decent traditional patriotic Labour voters” should vote Tory.
He said: “I’m not a Tory but I wouldn’t say Boris Johnson is unfit to be our prime minister in the way that I say that about Jeremy Corbyn.”
Mr Austin said Tom Watson, who quit on Wednesday as deputy Labour leader and MP, was “appalled” by the “scandal of anti-semitism” that had grown in the party.
“I think it is enormously significant,” Mr Austin said of the decision.
“If Tom thought that Jeremy Corbyn was fit to lead our country and fit to form a government, then he would have been in that Cabinet. Would he really be standing down?
“Anybody who has spoken to Tom knows what he thinks about Jeremy Corbyn.
“More importantly, they know how appalled he is, like so many other people, by the scandal of anti-semitisim that has poisoned the Labour Parry under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”
Asked if he was advocating for the electorate to vote for Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn on December 12, the disgruntled ex-Labour MP for Dudley said: “I am.”
Mr Austin added: “Look, the public has to make this choice. The British people have to decide this.
“Lots of traditional Labour voters are going to be grappling with this question.
“If they have got to face up to that, then I don’t think people like me should have the luxury of running away from it.
“What Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party, I don’t want him to be able to do that to the country.”