Emma Reynolds: Corbyn has integrity – and he has the good of the country at heart
She’s not the first person you would expect to hear praising Jeremy Corbyn.
Emma Reynolds quit Labour's shadow cabinet within hours of him being elected as leader in September 2015, citing Mr Corbyn's disloyalty to Labour, and his opposition to the EU and Nato as reasons for her decision.
Since then avid Remainer Ms Reynolds has also clashed with him over his handling of anti-Semitism in the party, and called for him to step down after defeat in the 2017 election.
But according to Ms Reynolds, a Labour administration under Mr Corbyn is eminently preferable to Boris Johnson regaining the keys to Number 10.
“I think I’m on record for not agreeing with everything Jeremy Corbyn has said in the past and there are things I don’t agree with,” she told the Express & Star.
“But I think he has the good of the country at heart and has got good integrity, which I can’t say the same about the Prime Minister. That’s why I’m asking people to vote Labour.”
Ms Reynolds has a majority of 5,495 from the last election.
She is back to defend the Wolverhampton North east seat she has held since 2010, but faces a major challenge from Tory candidate Jane Stevenson, who was predicted to win the seat in last week's YouGov MRP poll.
The Wolverhampton councillor, a classical singing teacher by trade, believes the seat to be “winnable” due to people’s frustration over Brexit and concerns over Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
Ms Stevenson, whose father lived in Bushbury for 30 years, said Brexit had come up “more than anything else” on the doorstep in a part of the city where 68 per cent of people voted to leave the EU.
She admitted she was concerned that the Brexit Party could split the Leave vote and allow Ms Reynolds to retain the seat.
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“In a general election there can be only two outcomes – Emma Reynolds or me,” Ms Stevenson said.
“If people vote Brexit Party they could get Emma and lose Brexit altogether.” She was not raised as a ‘true blue’ Tory. She grew up in the Merry Hill area of the city and her father Robert was a staunch Labour voter.
“I’m not sure he would’ve had a lot of time for Jeremy Corbyn though,” she said.
“I don’t think Corbyn’s version of hard-left economics has ever stood up – his decisions are based on ideologies.
“My dad and I were different, politics wise, but I don’t think the Labour Party is the party of the working people anymore.
“And I feel the extreme left policies of Corbyn have put people off.”
'Sick of Brexit'
Ms Reynolds rejects claims that Brexit has been the main topic of conversation among voters, insisting people were more concerned about other issues, particularly the NHS. “Every time the Tories are in power, the NHS goes backwards,” she says.
“People are sick and tired of Brexit but it’s not going to go away quickly – even if there’s a Tory Government the idea they would get it over and done with, it’s frankly for the birds.“It’s only the start of years and years of trade negotiations.
“People are worried about public services, a shortage of nurses, waiting times being too long, and schools which are facing cuts.
“And I feel I can’t do, in my conscious, vote for a deal that would be bad for my constituents. I think people realise that Brexit is not a black and white issue.”
Ms Stevenson, meanwhile, is standing up for greater diversity in Parliament, and wants to see more local apprenticeships and to protect the green belt around Wolverhampton.
She has also expressed concerns over Beatties’ future.
“It’s such an iconic building in Wolverhampton and anyone who grew up here knows and remembers having a posh afternoon tea in there,” she said. “We’re losing part of our history, really.”
Also standing in the seat are Vishal Khatri (Brexit Party), Andrea Cantrill (Greens) and Lib Dem Richard Maxwell.