Former Labour minister Ivan Lewis urges voters to back Conservatives at general election
Another former Labour minister has urged voters to back the Conservatives at the general election.
Ivan Lewis, who is Jewish, told voters in his former Bury South constituency that should support Boris Johnson to "say no to anti-semitism".
He is the third ex-Labour minister to endorse the Conservatives, following Ian Austin and Tom Harris.
Mr Lewis quit the Labour Party last year accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-semitism and claiming he could "no longer reconcile my Jewish identity and current Labour politics".
He had been suspended from the party since November 2017 over allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied.
The former Foreign Office minister had been planning to stand as an independent in the seat he had represented since 1997, but said he had decided to stand aside to boost the Tories' chances of winning it.
In a statement posted on Facebook, he said: “At last week’s hustings for the Jewish Community, a Kindertransport survivor and long-standing supporter asked me in view of the threat posed by Corbyn to support the Conservative candidate in Bury South...
“In this election, I have spoken to many Bury South voters who have told me the priority for our local community and country is to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
“As the independent candidate, I am grateful for the support I have received but it is now clear that the best way to stop Corbyn in Bury South is to vote Conservative and support their candidate Christian Wakeford.
“So today, I'm asking the thousands of voters in Bury South who don’t think Corbyn is fit to be Prime Minister to vote Conservative. Many will be voting Conservative for the first time and it will require much soul searching. But it is the right thing to do.”
Mr Lewis also said Labour’s manifesto was “unaffordable” and “undeliverable” and added: “Voting Conservative in Bury South is the only way to make sure Brexit is delivered, protect our national security and make sure the economy doesn’t crash with devastating consequences for working and vulnerable people.
“It’s the only way for decent people of all faiths and none to say no to anti-semitism and show solidarity with their Jewish neighbours, workmates and friends.”
He continued: “This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I believe it to be in the best interests of the constituency and the country.”
A Labour source, said: "Ivan Lewis was suspended from Labour while we investigated serious sexual harassment complaints about him.
"He 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."
During the election campaign the Labour party has faced further scrutiny over its handling of anti-Jewish hatred, with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis branding Mr Corbyn "unfit for high office" over the problem.
Two Scottish Labour candidates have also been suspended over alleged anti-semitism, with another standing down.
On Tuesday, Mr Corbyn said he was “very sorry” for the party's failure to deal with the problem.
“Our party and me do not accept anti-semitism in any form, obviously I’m very sorry for everything that’s happened but I want to make this clear, I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it,” he said.
“Other parties are also affected by anti-semitism, candidates have been withdrawn by the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives and by us because of it, we just do not accept it in any form whatsoever."