Left-wing Brexit backer George Galloway will stand against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in the Manchester Gorton by-election, the former MP announced on Tuesday (21 March). Galloway, 62, last unsuccessfully contested the 2016 Mayor of London election as a Respect Party candidate.
The Scottish firebrand, who compared himself to Manchester football managers Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, will run as an independent candidate in the by-election.
The vote is expected in May and was triggered after Labour's Sir Gerald Kaufman, 86, passed away in February.
"A thicket of councillors will put themselves forward. I am not a local councillor any more than Sir Gerald was. I am a parliamentarian as he was a parliamentarian," he told Westmonster.
"I will be heard if you elect me, on matters local national and international. On Brexit and Scottish nationalism, on war and peace, on houses and schools, on work and unemployment, on immigration, on the Commonwealth, on roads and refuse. I will live here, I will work here, I will serve here.
"It's true I'm not local but then neither was Sir Matt Busby. Neither was Sir Alex Ferguson nor Pep Guardiola nor Jose Mourinho. Like them I want to work for you, for Gorton, for Manchester.
I am like Sir Matt a Scot of Irish background.
"There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40 year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk."
Labour, who are defending a majority of more than 24,000 votes from the general election, has unveiled an all-Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) shortlist of candidates.
"The short-listing, which excluded many better candidates, is the latest in a long line of insults delivered by mainstream parties to local communities," Galloway said.
The Liberal Democrats are hoping to make big gains in the by-election on a pro-EU ticket after 61% of the constituency backed a Remain vote at the EU referendum last June.
"While Galloway won't pick up enough votes to win, he clearly will take a number of votes from Labour. That increases our chances of winning as the only party that can beat Labour in Manchester Gorton," said Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.
"Galloway is a divisive, hard left campaigner of the old school and an ardent supporter of Brexit.
"There will be little support for his brand of politics in Manchester Gorton, which is a diverse and tolerant place and voted 62% to remain in the EU.
"His decision to enter the race is yet another consequence of the chronic splits and weak leadership in the Labour party. People in Manchester want change, they deserve better than a failed politician and a failing Labour party."
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