HALESOWEN and Rowley Regis Labour candidate Ian Cooper said he is backing another referendum on Brexit as he launched his campaign in the run-up to December's general election.

Mr Cooper said: "The current deal put forward by Johnson is actually worse than the one he voted against under Theresa May.

"It does not provide the essential guarantees on employment and consumer rights, nor on protections for our environment.

"I’m in favour of putting it back to the British people in a referendum and I’ll campaign to Remain."

Flanked by supporters in Blackheath Mr Cooper stressed the December poll is the most important election since 1945.

Mr Cooper, who lost to James Morris MP in 2017, said: "This election will determine what type of Britain we will live in for generations to come.

"The choice is between a low skilled, deregulated economy in which workers rights will be routinely ripped up or a compassionate country in which the many can thrive under a Labour government instead of the few blatantly profiteering at the expense of everyone else."

The 52-year-old added: "We are campaign ready and I have got a message for James Morris, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump - our NHS is not for sale.

"For a decade James Morris has happily voted for austerity measures in Westminster which decimated services in Halesowen and Rowley Regis.

"Since James Morris became MP Halesowen has lost its magistrates court, fire station, ambulance station and a fully-functioning police station.

"GP surgeries, youth centres and services for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill have also disappeared in the constituency.

"The only places which have grown and thrived have been food banks."

Mr Cooper said he is born, bred and has worked all his life in his constituency.

He said: "I am calling on everyone who cares about Halesowen and Rowley Regis, their neighbours and the community to get involved in our campaign and change all our futures for the best."

James Morris MP, who is pro-Leave, hit back at Mr Cooper's claims.

He said: "It is a shame Ian has chosen to engage in scaremongering to try and win votes.

"The NHS is, and always will be, free at the point of use.

"No amount of scare stories from the Labour party will change that.

"It is important to remember that Labour candidates have been claiming that there are only weeks left to save the NHS at every election at which they are not in Government, yet it is the Conservatives who are investing more money into the NHS.

"I will be campaigning on my positive plan for Halesowen and Rowley Regis and my record of local action, building on what has already been achieved such as record levels of employment and hundreds more businesses than in 2010."

James Morris polled 23,012 votes in the 2017 election. Ian Cooper polled 17,759 for Labour, with UKIP taking just 2,126 votes and the Lib Dems 859.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis was a heavily Leave-voting seat in the 2016 referendum - with Leave taking 66.59 per cent of the vote and 33.41 per cent of voters backing Remain.

Ryan Priest is contesting the seat for the Liberal Democrats. Andrew England Kerr had been selected to stand for the Brexit Party, but was kicked out in September after a disagreement.

The Brexit Party said it would announce a replacement candidate soon.