Ilford South MP selection begins next week
PUBLISHED: 09:58 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:20 20 February 2019
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The process to select the next Labour MP candidate for Ilford South will begin next week, despite incumbent MP Mike Gapes insisting he is not going to trigger a by-election.
On Monday, (February 18) seven MPs including Mr Gapes, quit the Labour Party to stand independently.
Labour chairman Ian Lavery has now emailed party members in all seven constituencies to tell them that the process for choosing Labour candidates will start from Monday.
Reacting to the news, Mr Gapes said the selection is a matter for the Labour Party, which he is no longer part of.
“I will continue as an MP for Ilford South until the next election and will continue to represent my constituents,” he said,
“A by-election is not going to happen because I am not going to resign.
“The selection of Labour MP candidates is a matter for the Labour Party.”
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Federation (UK) was one of the residents emailed about the selection process.
He claimed Mr Gapes has no mandate to represent Redbridge residents and some constituents feel let down.
Mr Singh went on to say that current Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal “stands head and shoulders above” any other potential Labour candidate for Ilford South.
“A few weeks ago, Redbridge Council leader, Jasbir Singh Athwal was named UK councillor of the year and is the ideal candidate to take over from Mike Gapes, who no longer has a mandate.
“The two Labour Sikh MPs elected in June 2017 have made a huge positive impact and Jas would be an excellent addition for Labour and the Sikh community that remains massively under-represented in parliament.
“The NEC members know Jas is hugely respected locally and would unite constituents that are angry and disappointed with Mike Gapes’ resignation from the Labour Party as they want to be represented by a Labour MP.”
Councillor Athwal said while he is privileged and honoured that “people think so highly of me”, at the moment he is busy running the council.
He did, however, refuse to rule out standing as Labour’s candidate in Ilford South.
He said: “If we get a candidate by May I would be very surprised as it takes a good month to go through the process.
“I feel honooured that people would think of me, but I am fully focussed on the budget next week.”
The Conservatives have been contacted about their selection process.