Camden and Haringey MPs vow to challenge Theresa May after surprise election announcement
PUBLISHED: 11:49 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:03 18 April 2017
Camden and Haringey's Labour MPs have pledged to fight the Conservatives after the prime minister said she will seek an election on June 8.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West has accused the prime minister of putting “party first and country second”.
Theresa May announced that she wanted the election – which can only be called with Parliament’s backing – to “guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead”.
Catherine West said she was grateful for the chance to “highlight the gross failings of the Conservative government since 2015” as well “their Lib Dem partners” from 2010-2015, but questioned the timing of the poll.
She added: “The country has been badly let down by the ruthless and ideological decisions made by the government across the NHS, social care, education and the economy.
“Yet, while I look forward to campaign for a Labour government that will right the wrongs and put social justice at its core, Prime Minister Theresa May has yet again put her party first and country second by calling an election at a time when her focus should be on negotiating the best possible exit from the EU.”
The shadow foreign minister also said Labour will “continue to hold the government to account on Brexit throughout the General Election campaign to ensure environmental protection, economic security and workers’ rights.”
Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer, meanwhile, said Mrs May’s desire for an election represents a “failure to build a national consensus”.
But he added: “It is also an opportunity for Labour to set out an inclusive, progressive and ambitious future for Britain.”
Mr Starmer, who is shadow Brexit secretary, also said that Britain is “now more divided than it was” after the EU referendum – or at any time in his lifetime.
He went on: “That represents a complete failure by Theresa May to bring the country together behind a bold and confident future for Britain outside the EU.
“Every step of the way Labour has sought to put the national interest first and to build a national consensus around our future relationship with the EU – not as members, but as partners.
“That is why Labour did not frustrate the Article 50 process in Parliament. It is why Labour has set six tests for the final Brexit deal that would deliver the best possible deal for everyone in Britain, whether they voted remain or leave.”
Meanwhile Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said her two years in Parliament have been the “the greatest honour” she could have wished for.
She added: “Local residents have always been at the heart of my work. I have continued the fight against HS2, stood up to devastating cuts to our schools and GP closures, and pushed for greater funding for our NHS.
Theresa May is now demanding a mandate for a hard Brexit that was never on the ballot – and we must say no.
“No to job losses, no to uncertainty for 18,000 local EU nationals and no to a bonfire of workers’ rights. Once again the Conservatives are putting party politics above our national interest.”
Ms Siddiq also said she has directly challenged former prime minister David Cameron and Mrs May “more than any other backbench MP” since 2015.
She said she had flagged “issues like junior doctors contracts, cuts to local authorities, security for EU citizens, women’s equality, hate speech and other local campaigns”.
But Conservative MP Mike Freer, who represents Finchley and Golders Green, said Mrs May is following up on a promise to unite the country.
He said: “The choice is clear: Do the British people choose a strong stable Government that can work to secure the UK’s national interests in Brussels, or a weak unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn and propped up by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party?
“As your local Conservative MP since 2010, I have campaigned locally to deliver superfast fibre optic broadband more widely across the constituency – coverage is now 98.3 per cent, up two-thirds on 2010 figures – I have campaigned for a permanent breast screening unit to help cancer prevention and better prospects for treatment — the contract is currently being negotiated — and I have worked hard to ensure the Government listen to the concerns local schools have raised over proposals for a new funding formula.”
He added: “By voting for the Conservative Party you get a hard-working local MP acting as your voice in Parliament, and a strong national leader striving to secure the best deal for the British people.”