A former Labour MP who urged voters to back Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he wrote a personal endorsement for the controversial right-wing Conservative Philip Davies.
Ian Austin, who was Labour's MP for Dudley North for 14 years before he quit the party over its anti-Semitism scandal, said Davies was an "outstanding representative".
On a leaflet produced for Davies' reelection campaign, Austin wrote: "I would encourage everyone across the Shipley constituency — including those who have always voted Labour — to vote for Philip."
Davies has been a notorious figure in Westminster for years. In 2009, he wrote to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to ask "why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this".
He was a member of Parliament's women and equalities committee until the election was called, despite being a longtime anti-feminist campaigner who railed against "feminist zealots" at a men's rights conference.
In 2014, Davies said that he agreed with the then UKIP leader Nigel Farage on "virtually everything".
But despite Davies' record as an outspoken Conservative right-winger, he has won the support of Austin, who resigned from Labour in February this year.
Earlier this month, Austin announced he was stepping down from Parliament and launched a stinging broadside at Corbyn over his leadership of Labour.
"The Labour Party has been poisoned by racism, extremism, and intolerance under Corbyn’s leadership," he said.
"I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have caused to Jewish people."
But Austin's former party has condemned his decision to endorse Davies. The shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said: "It's sickening that Ian Austin, who trades on his so-called mainstream opinions, is endorsing a Tory who holds such extreme views.
"Ian Austin's rejection of everything the Labour Party stands for speaks volumes about his prejudice and bigotry."
Austin said: “I think people should vote Conservative because Corbyn is unfit to lead our country and because I want to make sure he gets nowhere near Number Ten.
“I’m not taking any lectures from a party that’s been poisoned by racism and extremism under Jeremy Corbyn.”