Johnny Luk selected to stand for Tories in Hampstead and Kilburn
Election contender voted to Remain but says government must leave EU
25 September, 2019 — By Richard Osley
A FORMER Brexit negotiator was tonight (Wednesday) selected as the Conservative candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary constituency.
Johnny Luk will now take on Labour MP Tulip Siddiq if a new general election is held, as is widely expected. Around 70 local Tory members were at the Hampstead Synagogue in Dennington Park Road, West Hampstead, to vote for their preferred candidate.
Mr Luk said: “I’m so excited. I don’t think the other candidates are aware of what they are getting themselves into. I’m going to make them earn every single in Hampstead and Kilburn. They are going to have to work hard, because I am going to be working harder.”
The final shortlist had only two contenders: Mr Luk and Ben Tansey, a former Camden council election candidate. Two other potential candidates pulled out before the meeting after being selected as candidates in other constituencies, and a third had to fly abroad on family business and could not attend the meeting.
In 2010, the Tories fell just 42 votes of unseating the then Labour MP Glenda Jackson, but have fallen behind in the two general election staged since. Ms Siddiq expanded her 1,138 majority to a lead of 15,560 in 2017.
Johnny Luk shakes hands with Ben Tansey after winning their selection battle
Mr Luk said he was not disheartened by the scale of the task insisting: “If you look at national politics, Corbyn is so unpopular on the doorstep. Yes, in 2017, Labour got a surge but it is so soft and I believe I am the candidate that can bring in a different narrative about our politics, about the fact most people want a pro-business government, most people want a liberal government that is fiscally Conservative but socially liberal. That is what I am.”
He had told members how he had worked in the government’s special Brexit department, based at No. 9 Downing Street, for almost two years.
“I’m not for a second referendum,” Mr Luk told the New Journal. “I voted to remain but I accept the democratic process because I’ve seen promises made that we would respect the referendum vote. I believe, of course, and this is what the government believes in as well, that we need to leave with a deal. And we need to leave with a good deal.”
He added: “I spent 20 months in the Brexit department negotiating for a deal and it was such a challenging process because throughout that journey we were being constantly undermined by the Labour Party and the Lib Dems. Imagine if you are negotiating to buy a new car and you have people yapping on your other side trying to undermine your negotiating position, of course we are not going to get the deal that we want. So I’m here saying that we need to work and support Boris, but also get a stonking large Conservative majority, because that’s the best way to get a deal.”
Mr Luk now works as head of policy at the Adecco Group
Ms Siddiq is one of the most pro-Remain Labour MPs in the House of Commons after breaking the party to whip to vote against the triggering of Article 50 – the mechanism which fired the starting gun on Brexit negotiations. In May’s European elections, however, the Liberal Democrats topped the polls across the constituency and their candidate Matt Sanders has already outlined his intentions to take her on with a simple stop Brexit altogether message.
Mr Luk said: “If you look at the Labour Party, their leader, their candidate to be Prime Minister, has a different point of view to Tulip and the vast majority of the Labour Party. How are they going to possibly going to run a government – it scares me – when they don’t even have a position on Brexit? It’s the biggest issue in our country and they are not showing any leadership whatsoever and I’m sure Tulip is very stressed out about that.”
Members congratulate their new candidate
Before the selection contest, Mr Luk had not been well known to all members but he said he had campaigned here before with the Conservative Friends of the Chinese. He has also worked as ‘videographer’ making films for London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey.
“My offices are just a few miles down in central London,” he said. “I live at the moment with my partner in Totteridge which is a few miles north. I’ve worked in London all my career and I’ve got a lot of friends here. Running up to this selection, I’ve basically been here every day. I even moved my birthday party for it. I’m dedicated to be embedded. Remember, this is not just a selection about me as an individual, we’ve got an entire team. We are going to change this, this is going to be a movement.”
Outside of politics, Mr Luk is a rower and won the gold medal at the 2009 national schools championships.
A film posted by Johnny Luk rowing, of which he says ‘there’s no compromise to hard work’
Asked about how he felt in relation to the Supreme Court’s ruling that Mr Johnson had acted unlawfully in suspending parliament, Mr Luk said: “In terms of the prorogation, it’s a very simple answer. If Corbyn wants a new government, if he wants to become prime minister, then let’s get a general election. What are you afraid of?”
He added: “I respect the courts. We are a law and order party. We absolutely respect the courts. But prorogation before the supreme court judgment had been a standard practice for lots of different governments. The courts has now amended some of that rule and we respect that, but before you decry about democracy, the Labour Party do not respect the referendum result and they don’t want a general election.”