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Holborn and St Pancras: Keir Starmer digs for victory and meets Murphy the horse at Kentish Town farm

PUBLISHED: 13:15 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:16 26 May 2017

Keir Starmer digging for victory.     Picture: Iain Burns

Keir Starmer digging for victory. Picture: Iain Burns

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Holborn and St Pancras Labour candidate Keir Starmer visited Kentish Town City Farm today to meet his daughter’s favourite horse, chat with volunteers and discuss the upcoming election.

Mr Starmer, who joked he’d come in his “gardening suit”, even helped with some digging as he praised the Cressfield Close charity, which is based on four acres of land and provides “eco-therapy” for disadvantaged children and the disabled.

He was invited by French alcohol firm Pernod Ricard, which had sent some of its employees to the farm to volunteer as part of its “Responsib’all Day”.

The shadow Brexit spokesman was told how leaving the EU was an “important issue” for the company, whose spokeswoman said it wanted to “protect an immensely profitable industry for the UK” by lobbying for single market access and the right for EU citizens to continue living in the country.

Mr Starmer – who lives close to the farm and visits regularly so his daughter can ride Murphy the horse – also spoke about housing, education, the EU and terrorism.

Keir Starmer chatting with the volunteers.      Picture: Iain Burns Keir Starmer chatting with the volunteers. Picture: Iain Burns

After a minute’s silence at 11am for the victims of the Manchester Arena atrocity, he explained that he had agreed with Tory candidate Tim Barnes, Green Sian Berry and Liberal Democrat Stephen Crosher not to campaign in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Stressing that he is “confident” about Labour’s chances in the general election, he added that he has always been “committed to the community” and would continue to be even if he became part of the government.

He said: “I’ve always tried to make sure I’m here – and it’s a huge deal that I live in the area.

“I want to stand up for this community, for people affected by HS2, school funding – and housing, housing, housing.”

Keir Starmer finally meets Murphy the horse.    Picture: Stephen Carpenter Keir Starmer finally meets Murphy the horse. Picture: Stephen Carpenter

A government priority, he said, should be to allow councils to “borrow to build” more homes – though he conceded that “space is of a premium” in Camden.

On the EU, he said he was surprised how little the issue has come up on the doorstep during his recent campaigning in dozens of constituencies.

“My sense is the mind of the country is made up and they have accepted that Brexit is happening, whichever way they voted,” he said.

“The argument now is about the deal.”

Keir Starmer with volunteers observing a minute's silence for the victims of the Manchester.   Picture: Iain Burns Keir Starmer with volunteers observing a minute's silence for the victims of the Manchester. Picture: Iain Burns

He rejected the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to a second EU referendum on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, which would include the option to reverse the decision altogether, by suggesting the party had “misjudged the mood of the country”.

When asked about the Manchester attack, Mr Starmer said that the country should give the security services support while they investigate and not “leap to conclusions about any particular communities”.

He added: “This is about individuals and groups of individuals – communities are not responsible for the actions of the individuals that make up those communities.

“In the same way that I as a Londoner am not responsible for what other Londoners do.”

Keir Starmer with the volunteers.     Picture: Iain Burns Keir Starmer with the volunteers. Picture: Iain Burns

On Prevent – the government’s counter-terrorism strategy – he said it should be “kept under review”.

“There’s a delicate tipping point between the necessary work of Prevent and the possibility of alienating communities,” he added.

“But at the moment it’s a bit early for that.”

Mr Starmer also said it was “deeply regrettable” that sensitive Manchester-related information and photographs shared with the United States ended up in American newspapers.

He added: “It makes it more difficult for our security and intelligence services.

“And it’s not the first time it’s happened. It needs to be raised as a major point by the prime minister.”

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