Diane Abbott predicts the surprise general election will see an “unpleasant campaign” but says the Labour Party can win if it presents a better vision for Brexit.
In a string of media appearances, the Hackney North MP and Shadow Home Secretary stressed the choice for voters is between a hard Brexit led by Theresa May’s Conservatives or one that works for the majority of Britons.
“People have got to make a choice between Theresa May’s Britain and Jeremy Corbyn’s Britain,” Abbott told BBC Radio 4’s World At One yesterday.
“They need to make a choice between an unpleasant, xenophobic hard Brexit and a Brexit that will protect jobs and living standards.”
She added: “There is no question in my mind that the Tories will fight a very unpleasant campaign and the electorate’s going to have to make a choice.”
An overwhelming majority of Hackney residents voted to Remain in the EU in last year’s referendum, with the third highest Remain vote in the country after Lambeth and Gibraltar, at 78.5 per cent.
The Labour Party led by Abbott’s longtime ally Jeremy Corbyn is 17 points behind in the polls, but the MP said polls have been wrong before.
Speaking to BBC News last night, Abbott said: “This won’t be the first time the polls have a called an general election wrong.
“We believe the [election] will allow the general public to focus on Theresa May’s version of Brexit, which puts controlling immigration before every other thing.”
Abbott added: “She has panicked her whole Brexit strategy is collapsing. She’s not going to get access to the single market and complete control of the borders. Most of the things she has promised will not happen.”
In an article for The Guardian last night, Abbott wrote: “There can be no doubt that, if May wins a majority in this forthcoming general election, Britain will be subjected to the grimmest of hard Brexits with all the harsh consequences for jobs and the economy.”
She continued: “The Brexit debate has been hugely divisive. But Labour represents not only some of the most passionately pro-remain constituencies in the country but also some of the most fiercely leave constituencies.
“And only Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has the capacity to bring the country together with a vision of Brexit that genuinely protects jobs and communities.”
Abbott indicated Labour would campaign on how Theresa May’s values compare with Jeremy Corbyn’s, saying the Prime Minister is “hand in hand” with US President Donald Trump.
In a nod to Corbyn’s years of activism with the Stop the War Coalition, Abbott noted Trump’s “posturing” over the dictatorship in North Korea’s missile tests, and said “if you are concerned about world peace, you have to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party”.
The MP admitted Labour will face a tough election after “months of internal division” and “visceral hostility by inhabitants of the Westminster bubble and left-liberal establishment”, but said the country “has never needed a Labour government more”.