Hugh Grant heckled by anti-racism protesters as he campaigns for Labour in north-east London

Evening Standard Politics 1 week ago

Hugh Grant  faced heckles from a group of anti-racism protesters as he campaigned for Labour in north-east London.

The Love Actually actor was twice confronted by a band of demonstrators as he joined the party's Chingford and Woodford Green candidate Faiza Shaheen in the constituency on Wednesday night.

Grant is an advocate of tactical voting to prevent a Tory majority at the election and had earlier campaigned for Lib Dem and independents in marginal seats.

Chingford and Woodford Green has been represented by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith since 1992.

After addressing Labour supporters in the outer-London suburb, Grant was challenged by a man as he got into a car with Ms Shaheen.

A group of activists were filmed surrounding the vehicle.

One protester, 19-year-old Harry Saul Markham, repeatedly asked Grant why he was supporting a "racist" party.

The demonstrator was carrying a placard bearing the message "[Jeremy] Corbyn supported terrorists. Unfit to be PM".

Around three other individuals also held placards with critical messages of Labour.

While delivering an outdoor speech to a crowd of Labour supporters earlier, Grant was asked if local Jewish residents should vote for the party.

In response Ms Shaheen said she and the party were "very sorry" about "mistakes" made over the speed of responding to complaints of anti-Semitism.

She added: "I am being subject to Islamophobia and it's been really upsetting actually being a woman of colour running here and being subject to the racism."

Ms Shaheen urged local residents to back her so she could help address the "underlying causes of Brexit".

She added: "We have to do something about those huge regional inequalities, we have to do something about the lack of investment in our NHS, in our schools.

“We have to do something to tackle the way in which we talk about immigration and the endless scapegoating."

In recent comments made to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, Grant accused the Labour leadership of not doing "anything like nearly enough" to remove the "anti-Semitic element" within the party.

The Notting Hill actor urged people to vote tactically to ensure the Conservatives did not win the election.

He claimed a Tory victory would lead to the "catastrophe" of a no-deal Brexit that would cause unemployment, an end to manufacturing, the end of peace in Northern Ireland and food shortages.

"Everywhere in the country where a Tory can be beaten, he has to be beaten. And there is in different constituencies, different contenders," Grant said.

The actor revealed he would be voting for the Liberal Democrats in his own constituency as they are the nearest challengers to the Conservatives.

Grant avoided commenting when asked if Labour leader Mr Corbyn would make a good prime minister.

He said a hung parliament would be his "dream result" and that he wanted a second Brexit referendum.

Brexiteer and local Conservative candidate Iain Duncan Smith, who represented the Chingford and Woodford Green area for 27 years, was described as "ghastly" by the actor.

He said Ms Shaheen stood a "fantastic chance" of beating her Tory rival, with a potential victory being a "marvellous Michael Portillo moment".

Grant described the area as a "noisy, feisty and quite fun place to do some canvassing".

Asked about how the public responded to famous faces joining political campaigns, he said: "I can see why it's annoying and I used to find it annoying myself. I just happen to think this really is a proper emergency and I couldn't really sit still.

"I don't think I deserve more of a voice than anyone else, but I don't think I deserve less. I've lived here all my life, I've paid my taxes like a good boy.

“I don't really see why I should be silent."

Mr Corbyn’s election campaign has been overshadowed by the issued, with the UK’s Chief Rabbi warning “a new poison” had taken hold in the party “sanctioned from the very top”.

The Labour leader has repeatedly insisted that the party is tackling anti-Semitism by expelling members.

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