Diane Abbott says diabetes forced her to step aside from election campaign

Veteran MP makes first public comments on illness that saw her replaced as shadow Home Secretary on eve of vote

David Hughes
Tuesday 13 June 2017 23:41
In an interview with The Guardian, she said was now 'ready to get back to work'
In an interview with The Guardian, she said was now 'ready to get back to work'

Diane Abbott has revealed she has Type 2 diabetes that was "out of control", prompting her to take time out during the closing stages of the general election campaign.

The veteran MP also hit out at the "terrible" targeting of her by the Tories, in her first public comments on the illness that saw her replaced as shadow Home Secretary.

Her surprise withdrawal came after struggling in broadcast interviews during the campaign.

But in an interview with The Guardian, she said was now "ready to get back to work".

"The Tories need to explain why they singled me out. It felt terrible, it felt awful – you felt you were in a kind of vortex – as I became aware of what was happening ... The Facebook ads, the Tories name-dropping me for no reason," she said.

Ms Abbott, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, came under relentless fire from Conservatives following an interview with LBC radio in which she forgot figures for Labour's police funding plans, and an appearance on Sky News when she struggled to discuss details of a security report.

"The first time I became aware that I was a target of a national campaign was when people in marginals in the north were WhatsApping me to say there were ad vans talking about me, with a picture of me and Jeremy on," she said.

"Then there were these targeted Facebook ads. There was one which was a mashup ad which made it sound as if I supported al Qaeda. We did contemplate taking legal action."

Unwell Diane Abbott 'taking a break' from Labour election campaign

Despite the prolonged right-wing media attack, she increased her share of the vote from 31,357 (62.9 per cent) in 2015, to 42,265 (75.1 per cent) this month, a 12.2 per cent increase in the vote share.

Explaining the deterioration in her health, the 63-year-old Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said: "During the election campaign, everything went crazy – and the diabetes was out of control, the blood sugar was out of control."

She said her brother had raised concerns after seeing her struggling: "He said 'that is not Diane', because ever since I've been a child I've had a great memory for figures, and he said he knew it was my blood sugar and gave me a lecture about eating and having glucose tablets."

The MP revealed she had been diagnosed with the condition two years ago.

She added: "It is a condition you can manage. I am doing that now and I feel ready to get back to work."

Press Association

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