A LEADING Brexit Party MEP has branded the grassroot movement Momentum, as a “cancer” at the heart of the Labour Party and as the “most sinister development” in British politics for a very long time.
Rupert Lowe, who represents the West Midlands in the European Parliament, was also critical of Nigel Farage for withdrawing 317 candidates from Tory held seats, arguing it allowed Tory Remain MPs to go unpunished. The former Southampton FC owner was explaining his decision to stand down from Dudley North in the 2019 general election. Mr Lowe pulled out at the eleventh hour just before nominations closed on November 14.
His decision provoked a furious response from Nigel Farage, who accused Mr Lowe of double-crossing him, being dishonest and having accepted some form of inducement from the Tories.
Mr Farage has since retracted his accusations in a statement released last week, in which he said he was happy to withdraw his “negative comments”, particularly any suggestion that Mr Lowe acted dishonestly.
The former farmer and businessman said his decision was based on principle and came after careful consideration of the polling data, once the former Labour candidate Ian Austin withdrew his candidacy and urged his supporters to vote for the Tory candidate Marco Longhi.
He argued that Dudley North, which Mr Austin won by a slim 22 majority in 2017, was probably by nature a Tory seat.
The constituency voted decisively for Leave in the 2016 referendum and Mr Lowe was anxious not to split the vote with the Leave supporting Tory candidate Mr Longhi, and thereby allow the Momentum supporting Labour candidate Melanie Dudley to be elected by default.
In an interview with Express.co.uk he said: “I dislike Momentum. I think they are the most sinister development in British politics for a very long time.
“To me they herald the beginnings of the Communist Party in Russia.
“They are a cancer at the heart of the Labour Party and I wasn’t prepared to let someone representing the Labour Party and Momentum into Parliament.”
He added: “So, I took what I considered to be a principled view in the interests of the country and the people of Dudley North and I sincerely hope that Marco Longhi is elected as their MP.”
Momentum is the radical left wing grassroot movement formed in 2015 that has helped Jeremy Corbyn consolidate his grip over the Labour Party.
The Brexit Party leader had come under considerable pressure to withdraw candidates from Labour marginals, but refused to do so.
Appearing on a special election edition of BBC Question Time in November, Mr Farage argued that in 2017 the Party had withdrawn its candidates in Labour marginals, only to see the Labour MP get elected.
He claimed that the decision had backfired because it forced Labour Leave voters , who could not stomach voting for the Tories, to vote Labour.
Mr Lowe partially agrees with his assessment, although he stressed that it was important to look at each constituency on a seat by seat basis.
He said: “I don’t think you can have a one size fits all view, but I certainly think that in some seats what Nigel says is true.
“I think there are seats where people wouldn’t vote Tory, but would vote Brexit Party.”
Arguing that Dudley North was not one of those seats, the former Southampton FC chairman was far more critical of Mr Farage’s decision to pull 317 candidates from Tory controlled seats.
In his opinion it has allowed Remain supporting Tories, who wanted a second referendum, to escape justice.
He explained: “I think it required more study and analysis on a seat by seat basis.
“I think we have ended up not standing against various Remain supporting Tories, who I think we should be standing against.
“We’ve ended up standing against some people who ultimately do want to leave, a bit like Marco Longhi in Dudley North.”
He concluded: “If I had had a Remain Tory, I probably would have taken a different view.”