Health secretary Matt Hancock was booed and heckled at a general election hustings in his constituency after he launched an attack on Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of antisemitism

Mr Hancock, who is the Conservative parliamentary candidate for West Suffolk, was met with chants of “shame on you” and “liar” when he accused the Labour Party of being “racist”. 

One member of the public challenged him on Islamophobia in the Conservative party amid the uproar at the event in Haverhill. 

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The criticism of Mr Corbyn came after members of the public laughed at the health secretary for repeating the Conservative manifesto pledge to increase the number of nurses by 50,000. 

The Tories came under fire for the promise after party sources revealed the figure would include 18,500 existing nurses who the government hopes to persuade to remain in the workforce.

Speaking at the event on Friday, Mr Hancock said: “So mark me at my word, we have committed to increasing the number of nurses across this country from 280,000 to 330,000. 

“50,000 more nurses. That is our commitment and we will make it happen. That commitment can be tracked, can be followed and it is a debasement of the political debate to say anything else.”

A video of the event shows Mr Hancock gesturing towards the Labour candidate as he says: “There is one thing I am more passionate about ridding from our politics than anything else and that is the antisemitic, outrageous, racist attitude of Jeremy Corbyn.”

His remarks prompted members of the public to boo, jeer and stand up in opposition. A man can be seen trying to take the microphone off the minister but he resists by placing his hand on the man’s shoulder before moving away. 

During the uproar, Mr Hancock said: “Anybody who would support a racist party shouldn’t be standing for parliament.”

Damian Page, a Haverhill resident who filmed the hustings in the town, said the atmosphere was “spicy,” adding that some attendees walked out of the event over Mr Hancock’s comments. 

He told The Independent the comments about nurses made “people angry because he is still trying to use the 'retaining some' as an argument for more nurses.”

On the antisemitism remarks, Mr Page added: “It was just a low blow and the crowd knew he was using it for cynical purposes. He left with egg on his face. The whole insincerity of his pitch didn't go down well with Haverhill. They do not suffer fools gladly.”

Mr Hancock and the Conservatives won West Suffolk by 17,063 votes in the 2017 general election.

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