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Brexit: Mike Rolfe quits as Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour Party candidate in disagreement with Jeremy Corbyn

A Labour parliamentary candidate has quit the party over Jeremy Corbyn's handling of Brexit.

Mike Rolfe, who stood in the last general election for Sittingbourne and Sheppey and was preparing to stand again, made his shock announcement yesterday.

He admitted: "I resigned from Labour a while ago and will not be standing as the party candidate in any general election or other election."

Mike Rolfe (Lab) raises his hand to supporters as Labour comes in second place in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.The Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency count for the 2017 General Election, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, SittingbournePicture: Andy Payton FM4804171 (15547554)
Mike Rolfe (Lab) raises his hand to supporters as Labour comes in second place in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.The Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency count for the 2017 General Election, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, SittingbournePicture: Andy Payton FM4804171 (15547554)

Mr Rolfe, a prison officer from Minster, Sheppey, came second in the poll after Conservative MP Gordon Henderson.

But he said: "In recent months I found myself so far at odds with the party. There has been a series of mixed messages from the Labour hierarchy, most notably surrounding Brexit, which are leaving voters confused, unhappy and apathetic.

"This disjointed approach left me feeling even further outside the political sphere of the party I had belonged to, especially as a fully signed-up advocate of leaving the EU, a position Labour had committed to during the 2017 general election.

"The party, I believe, is so fixated on governing that the message has been lost from two years ago.

"Tom Watson, the Deputy Labour Leader and prominent pro-remain politicians publicly demand Labour declares its remain intentions. This is a position I could no longer tolerate, accept or abide by.

"I cannot see how such a fractious and disjointed party will ever regain power."

He added: "As a property owner, businessman and government employee I recognise the potential risk of recession financially, economically and socially but I also believe in democracy. Like many people, my faith in the British political system is not only dented but written off by the current cohort of charlatan MPs.

"For me, leaving the European Union is a chance to press the reset button on what I believe is an unhealthy relationship, restoring our national identity and promoting ourselves on the international stage rather than confining ourselves to the constricts of a European Superstate.

"Voting leave on June 23, 2016, did not make me a racist or ‘stupid.’ I understood the economic risks."

Mike Rolfe (Lab).The Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency count for the 2017 General Election, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, SittingbournePicture: Andy Payton FM4803467 (15547567)
Mike Rolfe (Lab).The Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency count for the 2017 General Election, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, SittingbournePicture: Andy Payton FM4803467 (15547567)

'Ashamed'

Mike Rolfe also rounded on former Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of the Brexit negotiations.

He said: "A ‘no-deal’ Brexit should have been firmly be on the table. Having handled negotiations personally and as a trade union leader, it is important for any negotiator to have the ability to walk away from the negotiating table."

He said Mrs May's approach had been like walking into a car showroom, saying what car you wanted, how much money you had and that you needed it then and there and then expecting to get a bargain.

He said: "The UK has failed miserably to secure a better deal because our elected officials laid all our cards on the table in one of the biggest transactions this country has ever faced. MPs from all parties should be ashamed of themselves."

Swale Independents Alliance leader Mike Baldock said: "The Brexit mess has caused a lot of good people to lose faith in the political system and the political parties leaving them effectively homeless.

"If we could just leave and start getting on with normal politics again it will be better for everyone. But I fear it will take a while for the bitterness and rancour that has clouded the democratic vote to be overcome."

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.


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