Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan join MPs on campaign trail in Camden and Haringey
- Credit: Archant
As the nation went to the polls this morning, Labour’s big hitters - including leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan - took to the streets of Haringey and Camden in a last-ditch bid to persuade voters to remain in the EU.
Mr Corbyn was in Crouch Hill with Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West attempting to put out a positive message on a drizzly polling day morning, following a long campaign which has been seeped in negativity.
He said: “I think it’s looking promising - it’s looking better than it did.
“I’ve done everything I can. I’ve been to every part of the UK. I’ve been to work places, factories, universities, colleges. I’ve been from Truro to Aberdeen.”
Asked about criticism that the Labour Remain campaign has not been getting through to its core voters, he said: “I do think we’ve been successful in getting the Labour message out that it is about worker’s rights, it is about our agenda, things we would do if we had the presidency of the European Union next year, which would be about ending zero hours contracts, raising the minimum wage and protecting workers’ rights, and not a race to the bottom.”
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Mr Corbyn, who voted not to join the Common Market in 1975, said he has been in discussions with some of his friends and associates who are “Lexiters” to try and persuade them of the Remain case.
He said: “I’ve encouraged them to think very carefully about the implications of a Leave win, and the xenophobia that’s associated with it. I don’t blame Lexit for it, but I do ask them to think very carefully about the politics of the situation.”
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He said that whilst “blue on blue” attacks have dominated the media agenda throughout the Referendum campaign, the Labour Party, in contrast, is united.
He said: “On Friday, the whole of the Labour movement will be unified in demanding better working conditions across Europe and ending austerity.
“There’s no problem in the Labour Party. I am in good contact with the nine (MPs) who support Leave.”
Mr Corbyn acknowledges there is a sense of alienation with the EU among many Brexiters, but said: “It is a misdirected anger because when you talk to those on zero hours contracts with companies like Sports Direct, it isn’t the EU that is exploiting them, it’s the companies who are benefitting from loopholes in employment law.
“I understand the anger - but the anger should be directed at those who are benefitting from exploiting them.”
Mr Corbyn said he has no plans to stay up all night, with the final result not expected until the morning.
He said: “I have to be up at 6am to do media, so I think being up all night would not be a good preparation for that.”
Catherine West said: “Most of the response in Haringey has been positive. Not all of it, of course, but in general the reaction on the doorstep has been good.
“We have been trying to get out the positive Labour case for staying, but because there has been so much negativity, unfortunately, this has been overshadowed to some extent, and of course, by the death of my colleague, Jo Cox.”
Like Mr Corbyn, Ms West acknowledged the vote outside of London might throw up a very different split between Remain and Leave.
She said: “There is a sense in the regions that the EU works in favour of London and the south-east more than in other parts of the country, and it can be difficult to plot where the benefits of the EU are for them - but we have tried to emphasise the benefits to manufacturing and agriculture from being in the EU.”
Out on the campaign trail in Drummond Street, Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer said the response in Camden was overwhelmingly positive for the Remain team - but recognised things weren’t as clear-cut outside of central London.
He said: “We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the country votes, but I feel we have done all we can to emphasise the benefits of staying in.
“It will be a long night. But we’re out now knocking on doors of party members who had said they would vote in, just to make sure they’ve actually voted - because every single vote really does matter.”
Mr Starmer’s sentiments were echoed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, who joined him in Drummond Street.
In between being mobbed for selfies, Mr Khan said: “All the posters in the windows here seem to be for Remain, which is great. The response we are getting now in the street is absolutely fantastic.
“But we know the picture is more mixed outside of Camden, outside of London, so we need our friends in Sheffield and Hull and Scunthorpe and everywhere else to come out today and vote to stay in.
“I’m feeling optimistic - but taking nothing for granted.”