General Election 2017: Lib Dems say Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit stance could cost Labour Hackney

Lib Dem candidate Dave Raval

Lib Dem candidate Dave Raval - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit could cost the Labour party seats in Hackney, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The borough had the third highest Remain vote of any region in the country at the EU Referendum, with 78 per cent.

And Hackney South and Shoreditch candidate Dave Raval, who was the borough’s Stronger In coordinator, reckons the Labour leadership’s “lackadaisical” approach could harm the party in one of its biggest national strongholds.

It would take some doing to overcome Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier’s huge majorities, both more than 24,000.

But Mr Raval said he only has to look at the number of old Labour members joining his party to see the change in attitudes.

“Hackney had a massive majority for people voting Remain and many Labour activists supported it, but unfortunately Jeremy Corbyn went the other way.

“Our party membership has gone up five-fold since 2015 and we’re about to announce we’ve got 100,000 members nationally.

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“Hackney’s Labour party members are joining us. It doesn’t matter what I say, the people on the doorsteps now were members of Labour last year.”

Ms Hillier, who Mr Raval will go up against, rebelled against the party whip to vote against triggering Article 50, which he commended her for.

But he said Ms Abbott faced a backlash for backing it. She will be running against Mr Raval’s colleague Joe Richards, the Lib Dem candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

“The Labour members are more upset with Diane Abbott than with Meg, because of how she voted,” added Mr Raval. “We’ve had people who have nothing against Labour just asking us to campaign to get her out.

“Meg did rebel, but unfortunately for her the leadership is still intent on going for a hard Brexit.”

Joe Richards said Labour were being “overconfident” if they thought they were going to win in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

“Diane Abbott’s name has come up a lot on our street stalls. People are rightly annoyed about it, coupled with the Labour in-fighting in general.

“There’s a lot of passion in Hackney at the moment that people feel the Lib Dems are an outlet for. Particularly is she’s allying herself with the party rather than the consitutency.

“Not a day goes by with my campaigning that someone doesn’t mention their Labour membership. If Labour are confident of a win in Hackney North then really they are over confident. It would take a huge swing but if you look at the numbers rather than the swing, and how many remain voters there are [it is achievable].”