St Leonards student to stand in Brighton for Labour

Solomon Curtis
Solomon Curtis

A 20-year-old student from St Leonards has been selected as Labour's choice to contest Brighton Pavilion, following the decision by the initial runner to stand down.

Michelle Thew, the chief executive of an international charity, announced she was standing down from the race for 'personal reasons', and this afternoon (May 8), the party's national executive committee selected Solomon Curtis to replace her.

Mr Curtis, a politics student at the University of Sussex, stood for Labour in the Wealden constituency in 2015.

He said: "I am proud and honoured to have been given the chance to contest Brighton Pavilion and I wish Michelle all the very best having come to this difficult decision.

"It is important that parliament changes and is more representative of the community it seeks to serve and I hope to add to its diversity and be part of that change.

"Nevertheless I will represent all the people, regardless of their background with energy and commitment.

"The seat is a straight contest between Labour and the Greens with the Tories standing no chance of winning Brighton Pavilion.

"Only Labour can form a government other than the Tories. That is why it is important people vote Labour if they want Theresa May out on June 8."

Mr Curtis will take on The Green Party's Caroline Lucas, who won the Brighton Pavilion seat with a 7,967-vote majority in 2015. Also contesting the seat is Emma Warman for the Conservatives, and Independent candidate Nick Yeomans. The Liberal Democrats announced they would not be fielding a candidate in Pavilion.

Speaking to the Hastings Observer last month about possible election pacts, Mr Curtis felt it was a ‘little bit ludicrous and slightly insulting’ to suggest if Labour did not field a candidate, its entire share of the vote would be transferred automatically to one particular party.

He said: “I’m not interested in attacking the other parties I’m interested in attacking the Tories and putting forward a positive vision.”

He pointed to the SNP’s Mhairi Black and former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy as examples of MPs elected in their twenties, and argued he would be a good choice to represent a young and diverse population in Brighton. Mr Curtis felt that under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour was presenting a clear anti-austerity message as well as stopping ‘scapegoating of migrants and welfare’.

Announcing Ms Thew's decision to stand down, a Labour Party statement said: "Brighton Pavilion Labour Party regrets that, for personal reasons, Michelle Thew has withdrawn as our candidate in the forthcoming General Election.

"Michelle has passed on her apologies to Labour voters, members and supporters, and confirmed that our campaign for Labour nationwide and across Brighton and Hove’s three parliamentary seats including Pavilion, continues to have her full support as a Labour Party member."