Diane Abbott: Why I turned down Strictly invite


Diane Abbott has revealed she turned down an invite to appear on Strictly Come Dancing because she does not have “natural rhythm”.

The Hackney MP – who was shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn until he stood down as Labour leader earlier this year – said she “couldn’t possibly” have done the show.

Each year, Strictly partners up celebrities with expert dancers to perform set-piece routines – with contestants picked from many different fields such as politics, sport, acting, presenting and comedy.

Ed Balls and Katya Jones during a photocall for the launch of Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour held at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
Ed Balls, the former shadow chancellor, competed on the show

This year, former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith is among the line-up set to grace screens from October, which also includes stand-up star Bill Bailey and British boxing hero Nicola Adams.

Ms Abbott was asked when she spoke to Sophy Ridge On Sunday if she had ever been offered to take part in the popular BBC series, which returns with a coronavirus-enforced shorter series next month.

“They have, and I turned them down,” she revealed.

“I couldn’t possibly do it. I think Jacqui’s very brave.”

More from Diane Abbott

Asked why she felt she could not do the show, Ms Abbott joked: “Because you’ll be surprised to know I’m not someone with natural rhythm and I didn’t want it exposed to millions of television viewers.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02:  British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith leaves Downing Street after the weekly cabinet meeting on June 2, 2009 in London, England. There is speculation that The Home Secretary will resign later today following a series of media allegations over MP's Parliamentary expenses.   (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Jacqui Smith will be on the programme, which starts in September

Ms Abbott also used her appearance on the programme to defend Extinction Rebellion‘s right to protest, following reports the government was considering classifying it as a criminal group.

She said the reported proposal was “ridiculous” because “they are protesters”, likening their “direct action” methods to those used by the suffragettes.

It comes after members of the climate change campaign group blocked the delivery of newspapers outside several printworks over the weekend.

Diane Abbott

‘Direct action has been legal since the suffragettes’

Jacqui Smith will not be the only veteran Labour politician to have gone on Strictly.

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls also appeared on the show – memorable for his performance of Gangnam Style.

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