MPs back PM’s u-turn on general election

28th Apr 2017
MPs back PM’s u-turn on general election

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announcing a snap General Elections out side 10 Downing Street on April 18 (Photo: Kate Green/ AA)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The British Prime Minister’s spectacular u-turn for a snap General Election was backed by MPs. Parliament endorsed Theresa May’s plan for a June 8 poll by a substantial margin of 522 to 13 on April 19.

May announced her “reluctant” u-turn in an urgent statement on April 18, where she complained about the division in Parliament and blamed opposition parties for her u-turn on seeking a snap election, accusing them of being intent on “frustrating” the Brexit.

May, who last year insisted there would be no election before 2020, said, “At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division,” she said.

May recalled Labour had threatened to vote against the deal reached with the EU, while the Liberal Democrats “have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals the UK’s membership of the EU.

“And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way,” she continued.
Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, welcomed “decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”.

Pro-EU Liberal Democrats Leader, Tim Farron, said, “This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.”

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who pushed for a post-Brexit referendum on Scottish independence called May’s u-turn a “huge political miscalculation in terms of Scotland.”

“This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country,” she said.

Opinion polls suggest a clear lead for May’s Conservative Party. Labour has confirmed that all its sitting MPs will be reselected but with pundits predicting the party’s worst election result since before the World War II a number are considering whether to withdraw just two years after winning their seats in 2015.

Former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, and MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop, have said they will not contest their seats.

 

Muslim MPs: React to the General Election

All 11 Muslim MPs have confirmed they will contest their seats.

The Conservatives will have their eyes firmly on a string of Labour seats in the capital including Ealing Central & Acton where Rupa Huq has a majority of 274 as well as Hampstead and Kilburn where Tulip Siddiq’s majority stands at just 1,138.

However, Siddiq said she was ready to stand on her record, “Local residents have always been at the heart of my work. I have continued the fight against HS2, stood up to devastating cuts to our schools and GP closures, and pushed for greater funding for our NHS,” said Siddiq.

She added: “Through the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, I’ve directly challenged David Cameron and Theresa May more than any other backbench MP in this Parliament, flagging issues like junior doctors contracts, cuts to local authorities, security for EU citizens, women’s equality, hate speech and other local campaigns.”

East of the capital Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, told The Muslim News she “welcomes” the election and would be campaigning against a hard Brexit. Ali said she will be fighting “for fair funding for our schools and NHS, for more social and affordable housing in Tower Hamlets, for jobs and opportunities for young people and for security for our pensioners.

“I will be campaigning for free school lunches for every primary school pupil, for a living wage of £10 an hour by 2020, and for support for carers. Most of all, I want to protect local services, jobs and businesses during Brexit.”

Tooting MP and Shadow Sports Minister, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, has responded to May’s snap general election with a feisty “bring it on” challenge. Allin-Khan won the by-election in June last year, sparked by Sadiq Khan becoming Mayor of London.

The A&E doctor increased Labour’s majority to 6,357 over the Conservatives, up from the 2,842 secured by Khan in 2010.

At the other end of the spectrum, barrister Shabana Mahmood will contest one of Labour’s safest seats. The MP for Birmingham Ladywood enjoys a majority of 21,868 (60.9 per cent). Also defending a large majority in Birmingham is Khalid Mahmood, the Perry Barr MP held his seat with 23,967 votes in the last elections.

North of the border, South Perthshire & Ochil MP and SNP International Trade Spokeswoman, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, accused the PM of using the election to press for a hard Brexit.

“The reckless and heartless Tories see this election as an opportunity to impose their increasingly right-wing agenda of even deeper cuts and force through a hard Brexit, both of which are absolutely against the interests of everyone who lives and works here. Instead, I’ll continue to fight for the best interests of the people of Ochil and South Perthshire. In Scotland, the SNP are the only party able to effectively stand up to Theresa May’s lurch to the right,” she told The Muslim News.

Labour’s MP for Bolton South East, Yasmin Qureshi, echoed Sheikh’s sentiment branding the PM an “opportunistic politician”. She told The Muslim News, “On numerous occasions, Theresa May said she wouldn’t call an election and now she has. She is an opportunistic politician, not to be trusted. However, her opportunism will be her downfall. We in the Labour Party can only benefit from the exposure that comes with a general election campaign.”

In Yorkshire Imran Hussain, Labour MP for Bradford East also slammed the PM for making a u-turn.

“After repeatedly saying she would not call a general election and that it is not in the best interests of the country, Theresa May has gone back on her word and called a vote on this Conservative Government’s 7 years of austerity, hardship and poor prospects for working people, the majority of which was propped up by a Liberal Democrat Coalition,” he told The Muslim News.

“In just over six weeks time, the people of Bradford will have the chance to say to this Government, ‘no more’; no more attacks on support for working people, no more cuts for the most vulnerable, and no more serving those at the top at the expense of those in the middle and at the bottom.”

His Bradford West colleague, Naz Shah, backed the call for a snap election. “I know there will be no room for complacency in Bradford West but I am confident I will be able to demonstrate and show people why Labour is the right option.”

Predictably all three Muslim Conservative MPs welcomed the snap election. Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani, who took over the seat from Charles Hendry in 2015, told The Muslim News the country “needs strong and secure leadership.”

She said the UK, “needs strong and secure leadership and it needs a government with a clear mandate to deliver economic success and domestic reform and to take advantage of all the opportunities Brexit has to offer. The Conservatives, under Theresa May, are best placed to do that.”

“I am lucky enough to be re-elected, I pledge to continue serving the constituents of Wealden to the best of my ability.”

For the full list of Muslim candidates in the General Election will be made available in the next issue of The Muslim News.

FULL LIST OF MUSLIM MPS

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY
Ochi & South Perthshire Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh
LABOUR
Tooting Dr Rosena Allin-Khan
Bradford East Imran Hussein
Birmingham, Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood
Bradford West Naz Shah
Ealing Central & Acton Rupa Huq
Bethnal Green & Bow Rushanara Ali
Birmingham, Ladywood Shabana Mahmood
Hampstead & Kilburn Tulip Siddiq
Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi
CONSERVATIVE
Wealden Nusrat Ghani
Gillingham & Rainham Rehman Chisti
Bromsgrove Sajid Javid

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