Candidate pulls out of hustings day after David Tennant row with Essex rival

Labour’s candidate for North West Essex - the seat being fought by Kemi Badenoch- unexpectedly pulled out of a political hustings. The decision - in concert with the national campaign - coincided with a growing row after Doctor Who actor David Tennant made swipe at cabinet minister Ms Badenoch over her stance on transgender and women’s rights.

Ms Badenoch hit back she "will not shut up" after Tennant suggested she should do so at the British LGBT Awards on Tuesday evening. Ms Badenoch accused Tennant of being a "rich, lefty, white male celebrity so blinded by ideology" in a post to social media website X after he told the audience “I don't wish ill of her, I just wish her to shut up."

But Dawn Butler, who is bidding to return to the Commons as the Labour candidate in Brent East, backed the actor. “Not all Black women think the same. I agree with David Tennant.”, she tweeted on the morning of June 26.

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However, Keir Starmer has distanced himself from Tennant’s comments adding “I wouldn’t have engaged in the way that he did. I think it’s right that we have these robust discussions, but we must do it respectfully.”

In North West Essex Labour are hopeful of unseating Ms Badenoch - who had a majority of more than 27,500 in the now abolished seat of Saffron Walden in 2019.

A statement read out by Thomas Van de Bilt - the chair of the constituency Labour party said: "With regret Labour's candidate for North West Essex Issy Wait will not be attending the political hustings at Stansted this evening.

"Issy made this decision earlier today at an agreement from the national campaign.

"Izzy says that while I am very disappointed I will host online public meetings and continue to run a positive campaign.

He added: “From my own perspective I will say Issy is very genuine in that and until a very short time before the meeting did believe she was attending.

“And I know from those working on the preparation she was very much looking forward to the debate.” The Labour party has been asked for comment.

Also running are Erik Bonino (Independent), Edward Gildea (Green), Niko Omilana (independent) and Smita Rajesh (Liberal Democrat)

Reform UK candidate Grant StClair-Armstrong was deselected by his party after blog posts were uncovered where he encouraged people to vote for the far-right BNP.