Security and Brexit take centre stage at Chelsea and Fulham hustings

Brexit and terrorism proved the most controversial topics at yesterday’s Chelsea and Fulham hustings.

Liberal Democrat candidate Louise Rowntree took aim at Conservative candidate and former MP Greg Hands over his parliamentary vote on triggering Britain’s exit from the EU.

Ms Rowntree said: “I was pleased to hear that our MP Greg Hands was a Remainer so I was alarmed when I saw he voted in Parliament to trigger Article 50.”

Mr Hands was absent, instead attending a London-wide hustings organised by the Evening Standard.

The Conservative leader of Kensington Council, Nick Paget-Brown, took Mr Hands’ place.

Labour candidate Alan De’Ath sharply criticised Mr Hands’ absence.

He said: “Greg Hands has the audacity not to even turn up to be held to account. He is not on your side. He is a spineless career politician.”

UKIP candidate Alasdair Seton-Marsden also didn’t attend.

The constituency is a safe Tory seat, but 71% voted Remain in the referendum, with some constituents indicating they would turn away from the Conservatives over fears of a possible hard Brexit.

Fulham resident and sustainability consultant Adrian Gahan, 37, has always voted Tory but said that the Conservative’s Brexit negotiations have been an act of ‘geopolitical vandalism on us and our closest neighbours’.

An Irish citizen, he said that Brexit ‘poses a real threat to peace and stability in Northern Ireland’.

The affluent area has a high proportion of foreign-born residents and Green candidate Bill Cashmore’s call for the government to immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens got huge applause.

Ms Rowntree was adamant that Brexit is the biggest issue on the doorsteps, even if that wasn’t reflected in the polls.

However Mr De’Ath said that Brexit was not an important issue on the doorstep in comparison to worries about the privatisation of Charing Cross Hospital and worries over social care.

On terrorism, candidates disagreed over the impact of police numbers.

Mr Paget-Brown said that the last Conservative Government diverted savings from police cuts in to intelligence services and that ‘community policing is no substitute for knowing what someone is doing on the internet’.

But Mr Cashmore accused the Tories of hypocrisy, saying: “Boris Johnson said the police must be held to account. They’re cutting numbers and blaming the police.”

One said he felt ‘ashamed’ that a government with £56bn to spend on HS2 could not spend more on internet surveillance and policing.

Voters will go to the polls tomorrow, with polling stations open from 7am to 10pm.


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