General election 2019: Ex-Labour minister Ivan Lewis urges people to vote Tory

image copyrightUK Parliament
image captionFormer Labour MP Ivan Lewis calls on voters to support the Conservatives

Former Labour minister Ivan Lewis has urged people in his constituency to vote Conservative to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.

Mr Lewis, who is on the ballot paper in Bury South as an independent candidate, claimed "institutionalised racism" in Labour had led him to take the stance.

He quit Labour in 2018, a year after he was suspended by the party.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn has said anti-Semitism is "vile and wrong" and he is "dealing with" the issue within Labour.

'Soul searching'

But, in an online Facebook post, Mr Lewis, who is Jewish, said it was "now clear that the best way to stop Corbyn in Bury South is to vote Conservative and support their candidate Christian Wakeford".

"Many will be voting Conservative for the first time and it will require much soul searching. But it is the right thing to do," he added.

Mr Lewis, a former Foreign Office minister, said today's Labour Party was "not the Labour Party of our parents and grandparents", and voting Conservative was "the only way for decent people of all faiths and none to say no to anti-Semitism".

His suspension by Labour in November 2017 followed allegations he had touched a woman's leg and invited her to his house at a Labour event in 2010.

Mr Lewis denies the claims.

He resigned from the Labour Party in December last year, a year after his suspension, and sat as an independent MP until Parliament was dissolved last month for the general election.

Mr Lewis accused Labour of "unnecessary and politically motivated delay" in dealing with his case.

But a Labour source said Mr Lewis had "left the party shortly before his hearing, denying the complainants their opportunity for their case to be heard".

"He is not a credible voice on tackling discrimination," the source added.

Last month, two former Labour MPs, Ian Austin and John Woodcock, said they would be voting Tory to keep Mr Corbyn out of Number 10.

On ITV's This Morning on Tuesday, Mr Corbyn said he was "obviously very sorry" over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Candidates standing in Bury South

  • Michael Boyle - Independent
  • Lucy Burke - Labour
  • Gemma Evans - Women's Equality Party
  • Glyn Heath - Green
  • Richard Kilpatrick - Liberal Democrat
  • Ivan Lewis - Independent
  • Andrea Livesey - The Brexit Party
  • Christian Wakeford - Conservative

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