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Idea of Corbyn as PM ‘chills me to the bone’, says ex-Labour minister

Tom Harris spoke out as the Labour leader began a campaign tour of Scotland in the run-up to the December 12 vote.

Jeremy Corbyn (Danny Lawson/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

A former Labour minister has revealed he will be voting for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the General Election, saying the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister “chills me to the bone”.

Tom Harris, who served as a junior minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, branded the Labour Party leader an “extremist” and claimed he was “not someone who can be trusted with the security of the nation”.

Suggestions that a future Labour government would allow a second vote on Scottish independence “add to the many reasons to vote against the Labour Party”, Mr Harris added.

The former Glasgow South MP spoke out as Mr Corbyn began a two-day campaign tour of Scotland.

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Tom Harris (Fabio De Paola/PA)

Mr Harris, who announced in 2018 that he had left the Labour Party, said Mr Corbyn “represents a kind of strain of left-wing politics that is a compete anathema to the traditional Labour Party”.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “He is not someone who can be trusted with the security of the nation as far as defence is concerned, he is a man who has instinctively sided with our country’s enemies over the years he has been an MP.

“The idea of him becoming prime minister just chills me to the bone.

“The only way of stopping Corbyn becoming prime minister is to vote for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, it is a very simple, logical conclusion.”

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(PA Graphics)

Mr Harris, who chaired the Scottish Vote Leave campaign in 2016, claimed security services in countries such as America and Australia “look at Jeremy Corbyn with great concern because they just don’t feel this is a man that can be trusted with the fundamental responsibility of protecting the country – that is the first responsibility of any government”.

He added: “I opposed him strongly even before he talked about him betraying the Scottish people and the Scottish Labour Party by allowing a second referendum, but yes, that does add to the many reasons to vote against the Labour Party.”

He also insisted the only way Labour would “reform” and remove him as leader would be if it lost votes.

“The only way you will get reform in the Labour Party now, they only way they will come to their senses, is if they are seen to suffer the consequences of putting someone like Jeremy Corbyn at the head of their party.”

Tory MSP Annie Wells welcomed his remarks as “an important intervention from a highly respected former Labour MP”.

She said: “Labour voters don’t have to agree with everything the Scottish Conservatives do or say.

“But if they’re serious about keeping Scotland in the UK and finally moving on from a decade of chaos and division, there really is only one party for them.”

During his visit to Scotland on Wednesday, the Labour leader told the PA news agency: “Tom Harris works for the Daily Telegraph.

“He left the Labour Party quite a long time ago.

“He was elected as a Labour MP to combat poverty and injustice in this country. If he now supports Boris Johnson and all the inequalities and poverty that his policies have brought, then that’s his choice.”

PA

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