Hornsey and Wood Green: Nick Clegg attacks 'really shocking' Labour during Muswell Hill visit
PUBLISHED: 19:25 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 19:25 16 May 2017
Nick Clegg visited Muswell Hill today to urge residents to vote for the Liberal Democrats because Labour has "thrown the towel in" on the EU.
The former deputy prime minister spoke to business owners in the area set to be affected by Brexit before making a speech outside Planet Organic in Muswell Hill Road.
He gave his backing to Hornsey and Wood Green candidate Dawn Barnes, who he praised as “brilliant”, and rejected arguments put forward by Labour candidate Catherine West.
Mrs West, who beat Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone in 2015, told the Ham&High she didn’t trust Mr Clegg’s party on the EU because Tim Farron said he was “a bit Eurosceptic”.
But Mr Clegg said that was “a specious thing to say”, adding: “Tim Farron is the only leader of a pro-EU party” and the only politician offering a second referendum on the EU.
He said: “Tim wants to return power to the British people, about whether we finally take the leap [and leave the EU].
“It’s really shocking that Labour doesn’t have the courage of its own convictions to give the people a say on their future.”
Mrs West, a strongly Remain MP who defied her own party to vote against triggering Article 50, “will explain how her record will differ from other Labour MPs”, Mr Clegg said.
“But she’s a Labour candidate and they will not give the British people a say,” he added.
“They support the Conservatives in bringing an abrupt end to freedom of movement – [Mrs West] only has so much wriggle room.”
Reacting to another of Mrs West’s comments – that voters should back Labour because the Lib Dems will never win the election – Mr Clegg said there would be a case to vote Labour on those grounds “if they would act like an effective opposition”.
He added: “But they have thrown the towel in on Brexit – it’s hard to make a case for them.”
Stressing that the poll was a “Brexit election”, Mr Clegg went on: “[Leaving the EU] is diametrically opposite to what young people want and the Labour Party has chosen to let them down by voting with the Conservatives and Ukip.”
While speaking to business owners affected by Brexit, he said the reality is there “aren’t going to be any mass deportations but the hassle of masses of red tape”.
Ms Barnes, meanwhile, said any second referendum after Brexit negotiations should have the option to cancel Britain’s departure altogether.
“My party is the only party supporting the freedom of movement of people,” she said. “The only party that would like to stay in the EU.
“Labour doesn’t want to do that – except for one or two MPs.”
Former Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone, meanwhile, said the Lib Dems have a “really good chance of winning”.
“I think there has been some buyer’s remorse after the last election,” she said.
“The issue here is do you want a party that’s offering the chance to have a second vote? If you want a second go, vote Dawn.”
But she added: “It will be a real battle royale.”