Reeves ‘very pleased’ Labour candidate suspended for pro-Russia posts

Andy Brown will still appear on the ballot paper in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, but without the support of the Labour Party.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labour took ‘swift action’ after pro-Russia posts by candidate Andy Brown came to light
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labour took ‘swift action’ after pro-Russia posts by candidate Andy Brown came to light (Lucy North/PA)

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said she is “very, very pleased” that a Labour candidate has been suspended after pro-Russia posts appearing to play down the country’s role in the Salisbury poisonings.

Andy Brown was disowned by the party in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency following reports he shared an article from Russian state media outlet RT which claimed the “toxin” used in the poisonings was “never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other Nato states”.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, which had been left in a discarded perfume bottle in Amesbury, Wiltshire, in July 2018.

It followed the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and ex-police officer Nick Bailey, who were poisoned in nearby Salisbury in March that year.

All three survived, as did Ms Sturgess’s boyfriend, Charlie Rowley.

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Ms Reeves said: “I hadn’t heard of this guy until this morning and I’m very, very pleased that I will hopefully not have to hear of him again because he’s been suspended as a Labour candidate.

“That is absolutely right. We’ve taken the swift action.

“As soon as these postings came to light, we got rid of him.”

She added: “People who don’t share our values in the changed Labour Party are kicked out of the Labour Party, while the Conservative Party continues to harbour people like Liz Truss, who has caused so much damage to the lives of working people up and down the country.”

According to the Press and Journal, in the same month Mr Brown also shared a quote from a Jewish historian which said: “The real issue… is that right-wing Jews in the Labour Party and outside the party object to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is a consistent supporter of Palestinian rights.”

Despite being suspended by the party, Mr Brown will still appear on the ballot paper on July 4 due to the deadline for nominations having passed, but he will not receive the backing of Labour.

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Andy Brown has been administratively suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation.

“We have taken the decision to withdraw support from a Parliamentary candidate during a General Election.

“Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer have changed the Labour Party and said that every candidate and MP would operate to the highest standards. This action shows that they meant it.”

The Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat has been in the news in recent weeks after Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross went back on his promise to stand down from Westminster to take over the candidacy from former MP David Duguid, who has spent time in hospital.

The backlash led to Mr Ross announcing he would stand down as party leader after the July 4 poll.