Gloves off at Portsmouth South hustings as candidates clash

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CANDIDATES standing in the marginal seat of Portsmouth South went head to head at a hustings at Portsmouth College.

Brexit dominated the agenda as Labour candidate Stephen Morgan did battle with Liberal Democrat rival Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Conservative Donna Jones in front of students.

While discussion did veer onto climate change, the UK’s voting system and whether the candidates would agree to a coalition government, Brexit was on everyone’s lips.

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Asked whether they would honour the referendum’s vote to leave – as well as the slim majority of those in Portsmouth South – the candidates all had a different response

Portsmouth South hustings at Portsmouth CollegePortsmouth South hustings at Portsmouth College
Portsmouth South hustings at Portsmouth College

Mrs Jones said: ‘Yes I would do. Never before have we seen 17.4 million take to the streets to vote. There were people in this city who have never before voted.

‘It empowered people. Voting is the bedrock of our democracy and if we don’t respect the referendum then this country is the poorer place for it.’

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But Mr Vernon-Jackson, responding to the question, said bluntly ‘no’.

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He said: ‘People’s views have changed since 2016. I oppose Brexit due to the enormous harm it will do to the economy.

‘We cannot allow ourselves to slavishly go down this line. If the majority of people were voting for capital punishment then I would not agree to that. Sometimes you have to take a stand and do what’s right.’

Meanwhile Mr Morgan insisted there should be another referendum – with him claiming there ‘never should have been one in the first place’ after it caused a ‘mess’.

But the MP also claimed there had been a change of mood since the last vote. ‘There has been a shift,’ he said. ‘If we had a straw poll out of all the people that contact me then 930 people out of 1,000 would be pro-remain.

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‘Leaving would mean trying to negotiate deals for the next 10 to 20 years.’

But asked what his response would be if people voted to leave again in another referendum, he said: ‘If that were to happen then I would respect the vote.’