Don’t put me wide left – Portsmouth centre-back Christian Burgess on the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

Christian Burgess isn’t your average footballer – as most Pompey fans are well aware of.

By Will Rooney
Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 6:43 am
Updated Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 7:45 am
Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler
Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler

The centre-back didn’t make his professional breakthrough via a scholarship at an academy. 

Instead, he signed for Middlesbrough after catching the eye playing for University of Birmingham while studying history. 

And even then he continued with his studies, completing his learning at Teeside University, where he gained a first-class honours degree. 

Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler

Last summer, the majority of his Fratton Park team-mates opted to jet off to the likes of Dubai and Greece to enjoy their well-deserved time off. 

Burgess travelled around South America, completing a five-day hike to Machu Picchu – the 15th century Incan citadel in the Andes mountains of Peru – as well as visiting Brazil and Mexico. 

And while he’s not on Fratton Park duty, some of his time is occupied by following the political scene. 

The Labour Party have been making the front pages of late, with 11 MPs quitting and forming The Independent Group.

Among allegations of antisemitism and how they’ve handled Brexit, Labour becoming more left wing under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has also come under fire. 

That’s an aspect that particularly worries Burgess, who identifies himself as centre-left on the political spectrum.

The former Peterborough man, who voted remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum, said: ‘I’m sitting on the fence at the minute.

‘But if a few more MPS switch then I’m thinking there’s the Independent Group there.

‘Labour has gone a lot more to the left.

‘The Trotskyist faction of the Labour Party is probably what’s going to make me jump.

‘I’m not that far left-wing – more centre-left.’

A resident of Old Portsmouth, Burgess was quick to celebrate when Stephen Morgan unexpectedly gained control of the Portsmouth South seat for Labour in the 2017 General Election. 

The 27-year-old’s vote went Morgan’s way. 

Since Corbyn took over as leader in September 2015, he’s gained many new supporters for the party.

While the opposition figurehead to Theresa May’s Conservative government is clearly a man of principle, Burgess questions whether Corbyn is the right man in charge to win over swing voters. 

He added: ‘I think Corbyn has got a lot of positive aspects to his principles – but I’m also of the opinion that you need to be a party that wants to rule and win general elections.

‘There’s only so much you can do principally. If you’ve not got the ambition to put your principles into practice then it’s hard to back that.

‘Unfortunately you need to win over swing voters at the same time – that’s what I believe.

‘The Labour Party is sort of stretched,

‘You’ve always had your centre-lefts and your centres and hard left-wing supporters have come together.

‘At the moment, it’s shifting quite far to the left.

‘There’s a few people in there who don’t quite feel the party accommodates them.

‘And I think there are a few voters out there who think it might be going a bit too far.

‘It has rallied people but it’s also put a lot of people off voting left wing and those centre voters may think they’re unvotable.

‘It’s a tough one at the moment. Politics in this country is crazy at the moment with Brexit going on.’