Portsmouth Labour leader deselected for Momentum ties hints at his political future

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A PETITION calling on the Labour Party to reverse its decision to block Portsmouth group leader councillor Cal Corkery from re-standing for election has attracted hundreds of signatures, just days after the news was confirmed.

Cllr Corkery, who represents the Charles Dickens ward, will not be able to stand for re-election via the Labour Party in May as a result of the decision which, he said, was made due to his arrest at a protest against the prorogation of parliament and for his links with campaign group Momentum.

Prior to his election in 2019, Cllr Corkery was the chairman of the city’s branch of the campaign group.

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Councillor Cal Corkery.

Picture: Habibur RahmanCouncillor Cal Corkery.

Picture: Habibur Rahman
Councillor Cal Corkery. Picture: Habibur Rahman

But more than 350 people have signed the petition calling for the decision to be reversed, speaking out in support of his work in the city.

‘As residents of Portsea, in Charles Dickens ward, we are outraged by the decision made by the South East Labour Party not to approve Cal Corkery as a candidate in the May local elections,’ the petition, started by Portsea Events Group member Amie Phillips, says.

‘Cal has supported our community so much, always going above and beyond to support our needs and improve our community for the better – no matter how big or small the task is. We are devastated to be losing him.’

Cllr Corkery has been leader of the council’s Labour group since last year and was first elected in 2019. He has already unsuccessfully appealed the decision to block him from re-standing but said it could still be overturned.

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Speaking to The News, he said he was ‘heartened’ by the support he had received through the petition and on social media.

‘Unfortunately I’ve been caught up in the national politics of the Labour Party,’ he said. ‘I have been really overwhelmed by the reaction to the news, especially from people I’ve helped over the years.

‘I’ve really enjoyed being a councillor – it’s been the privilege of my life.’

He said he had not considered the option of standing as an independent in May, nor the possibility of joining another party.

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.