An Independent candidate has explained why he has stood down from next week's General Election contest in Blackburn.

Altaf 'Tiger' Patel withdrew from the election and said by doing so it would help unseat the sitting Labour MP as the vote would 'not be spilt'.

It follows a tumultuous week for the Independent candidates in Blackburn who have been under pressure to resign and leave only one opponent to take on the Labour Party. It was seen as their best chance to win the constituency.

The Blackburn with Darwen councillor, told his followers on social media:  "It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to withdraw from the general election race as a candidate. 
‘’After much reflection, Istighar, prayer and guidance, I’ve concluded that stepping down at this stage is the best course of action for the unity of our Ummah (community). 
‘’I understand that this decision comes very late in the campaign, but I believe it is very crucial for us to come together and vote Labour out of Blackburn by uniting under a single candidate for the greater good of our community. 
‘’I have made this difficult choice to ensure we stand as one.
‘’As someone deeply committed to the well being of our community, and the struggles based faced with our brothers and sisters in Palestine, I believe it is important now than ever to show our solidarity."

In the video he was seen sitting next to the Workers Party of Britain candidate Craig Murray and fellow campaigners.

He said: ‘’Our unity is paramount and we must centre our collective voice to make a real difference, both here at home and abroad. I wholeheartedly believe that Craig Murray is the candidate that deserves our support."

And added: ‘‘’Let us stand together as brothers and sisters under one banner, working towards a better future for Blackburn, and showing our unwavering support for Palestine."

Craig then addresses the audience and says: ‘’I call on everybody in Blackburn to unite, to unite together now with this great lead which Tiger has shown. 
‘’And we will go in and we will take this seat, and we will make a new start for Blackburn.’’

The decision came only ten days before the election with ballot papers already printed and postal votes having been sent out to homes.

The full list of candidates on the ballot paper is: Kate Hollern – Labour Party; Adnan Hussain - Independent; Jamie McGowan - Conservative Party; Denise Morgan - Green Party; Craig Murray – Workers Party of Britain; Altaf 'Tiger' Patel – Independent; Natasha Shah - Independent; Tommy Temperley – Reform UK; Adam Waller-Slack – Liberal Democrats.

Article by University of Salford, Student Journalist, Maariyah Kadu