Former Tory MEP says he now backs Keir Starmer following Priti Patel’s response over refugees

Former Tory MEP for North West England Sajjad Karim; Twitter

Former Tory MEP for North West England Sajjad Karim; Twitter - Credit: Archant

A former long-standing Tory MEP has announced he is now supporting Sir Keir Starmer, with a dig to Boris Johnson's government saying that the Labour leader represented the 'values' of everyday Britons.

Sajjad Karim, a former Tory MEP for North West England from 2004 until July last year, claimed Sir Keir was the 'voice for our values' on Twitter.

Karim quote tweeted a message from Starmer who was responding to news the shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds had written to Priti Patel calling for answers over the death of a 16-year-old Sudanese refugee in the English Channel..

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Starmer wrote: 'The death of a 16 year-old child in the Channel is a tragedy. My thoughts are with his loved ones.

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'This is a humanitarian crisis that needs a compassionate response.'

Thanking Sir Keir for his approach to the migrant crossings crisis, the former Tory politician wrote: 'I was a Conservative MEP, but today it is you Keir who must be a voice for our values.'

Karim is a vocal campaigner in the fight for social justice. In the European Parliament he challenged Nigel Farage on Brexit Party funding.

Outside of Brussels he has fought against Islamophobia in Britain and, in August,joined a growing group of senior public figures accusing Boris Johnson of kicking a review into racism inside the Tory Party 'into the long grass' after it was delayed for the eighth month in a row.

Karim, who said he had experienced Islamophobia from other Tory politicians, said his party hoped the issue of racism 'will simply go away'.

'We are now eight months down the line and let's bear in mind all that has happened in the meantime with the Black Lives Matter movement,' he told The Independent.

Reacting to Karim's message, Twitter users praised the move. Ragnar L wrote: 'Conservative ex-MEPs are a fine breed it seems.'

James William Jacobs tweeted: 'Always welcome in @UKLabour. A party that actually cares for people rather than demonises them.'

'Thank goodness there are those prepared to put lives before party politics,' said Helen Cliff. 'Wish I could give the same accolade to my own Tory MP who is more interested in repeating spin.'

'You are on the right side of history Sajjad,' shared another.

Dr Charles Tannock, also a former Tory MEP critical of the UK's departure from the EU, wrote: 'Sajj & I were definitely outliers as Tory Remoaners not ever convinced by Brexiteer triumphalism.

'None of their global Britain hyperbole predictions have turned out as promised & at best Brexit is now a long term damage limitation project. We both tried our best to point this out!'

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