A public debate between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Morecambe MP David Morris is on the cards.
The chairman of the local Labour Party said they would “be happy” to set up talks between Mr Corbyn and the Conservative MP.
This came after Mr Morris threw down the gauntlet to Mr Corbyn following the Labour leader’s visit to Morecambe on Friday.
The Morecambe and Lunesdale MP challenged Mr Corbyn to discuss why “foodbank figures in Islington where he is the MP are much higher than here” and why “he presides over the third highest levels of child poverty in the country”.
Kay Dickinson, chair of Morecambe and Lunesdale Labour Party, said: “When Mr Corbyn returns, as he has promised to do, we will be happy to take Mr Morris at his word and set up the public debate that he seems so keen to have, with local media in attendance. The idea that he would be happy to have had a debate on the ridiculous comparison of London with Morecambe with Mr Corbyn is laughable.
“It would be a pleasant change for Mr Morris to visit the long-suffering community groups that Mr Corbyn visited. He would then be aware of the effects of Tory policies that he has voted for and that, far from their volunteers being part of any ‘staged audience’, they are the ones doing his job for him, fighting for desperate people, allowing them to keep their dignity whilst ensuring they and their children are properly fed.”
On Friday, Mr Corbyn met volunteers from Stanley’s youth and community centre in the West End and partner organisations such as Lancaster Boys and Girls Club and Sustainability Morecambe, spoke to Labour members at the Carleton and posed for a photo with the Eric Morecambe Statue.
He also popped in to the Study Room pub in Lancaster on Thursday night.
Mr Corbyn told us on Friday: “I had a run along the promenade this morning and said hello to Eric. It was lovely. I also bought a teapot in the British Heart Foundation charity shop whilst I was here.
“Coastal towns like Morecambe face huge challenges, the traditional two week holidays are now taken abroad.
“Improvements can be made especially to the rail network and special events help.”
But speaking the day after the Labour leader’s visit, Mr Morris said: “Corbyn should sort out his own constituency in London before coming here and being negative about Morecambe.”
He also said “(Corbyn) emailed me to say he was in Morecambe as he was arriving on the link road I secured the funding for” and if he’d had “more warning” he would have “quite happily have had a debate in front of his staged crowd”.
Vikki Singleton, the Labour candidate defeated by Mr Morris in the 2017 election, also challenged her rival to a public debate after reading his comments.
Mrs Singleton said: “Aside from David Morris’ usual waffle, where he once again tried to take credit for the link road that everyone knows he had nothing to do with - I was pleasantly surprised to read (that) he would have liked to have been given the opportunity to debate with Jeremy Corbyn at the event.
“During the General Election campaign he, much like Theresa May, seemed to run scared of debates.
“I would like to take this opportunity to challenge him to a public debate now that he seems to have finally plucked up the courage to face questions from his constituents.”
Mr Morris responded: “I am happy to debate with Jeremy Corbyn. My involvement in the regeneration of the area and the securing of the M6 link road is acknowledged by all and it is clear that Labour are too hung up on trying to claim credit for other people’s work to even begin to understand Morecambe and Lunesdale.”
But the MP said he would not debate with Blackpool-based Mrs Singleton because police were looking into “the validity of her nomination at the last General Election”.
Mrs Singleton’s use of a Lancaster address on official nomination papers caused an outcry among Tory supporters.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “A 33-year-old woman from Blackpool was voluntarily interviewed on suspicion of submitting false statements on nomination papers and released pending further enquiries.”