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General Election 2017: Jeremy Corbyn says backing Brexit won’t cost him his Islington North seat

PUBLISHED: 15:45 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:34 24 April 2017

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Birmingham this afternoon. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Birmingham this afternoon. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed claims his Brexit stance could cost him Islington North in June’s snap general election.

Caroline Russell (Green), one of his likely opponents in the poll called by Prime Minister Theresa May this morning, said Labour voters are “at their wits’ end” with the veteran MP after he whipped his party to vote in favour of Brexit earlier this year. Islington North voted 78 per cent to remain in the 2016 referendum, the fifth highest anti-Brexit vote anywhere in the UK.

But speaking to the Gazette this afternoon, Mr Corbyn said: “A referendum took place and we respected the result of that. We will still protect workers’, environmental and consumer rights that EU membership gave us. We want that decent relationship.

“I don’t think the views of Islington North have to be articulated by Caroline Russell. But she is a woman I like, respect and would work with in future.”

Mrs May will tomorrow need two-thirds of Parliament to vote for her motion to hold the election on June 8 – and it has the Labour leader’s backing.

Despite his poor opinion ratings – a recent poll found only 45 per cent of Labour voters think he would make a better Prime Minister than Mrs May – Mr Corbyn is confident about his message.

“I’m really looking forward to it. There are a lot of people out there who need housing, want good jobs and schools, and who don’t want hospitals and social care to be under-funded as it is now.

“I had no idea she was going to call it. It’s been a busy day! But we immediately put together a long list of plans for the next six weeks to get the message out there: a message of a decent, more equal society for everyone.

“I’ve just arrived in Birmingham for a speech on Labour’s carers’ allowance increase as part of that. And the Islington North Constituency Labour Party is meeting tomorrow night to organise our campaign.”

When a backbencher in the May 2015 election, Mr Corbyn won Islington North by a huge majority of 21,194 votes. He was elected as Labour leader four months later.

Islington Council has said the Islington North and Islington South and Finsbury election counts will be held at Sobell Leisure Centre in Holloway.

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