Matt Rodda is the Labour Party’s candidate for Reading East.

The former journalist was elected as Reading East MP in 2017, beating previous Tory MP Rob Wilson with a majority of more than 3,000.

It was the second time he stood for election in the constituency, having also contended with Mr Wilson in 2015.

Below is the Q&A with Matt to find out why he is standing for your vote.

Hi Matt. What have you been talking to people about during the election and what has their reaction been?

I’ve been saying to people that it’s a point in history where we can choose to go in one of two directions: either we will go off and have a trade deal with Donald Trump’s America or we will stay part of the European mainstream.

The choice, from my perspective, is which of those options we take. That’s why I’m campaigning for a second referendum so we stay in the EU.

But it’s also a choice in at least two other ways.

Socially, we want a more caring society, with more investment in public services which have been very badly affected in the last ten years.

If we did have a trade deal with the United States, I think that could seriously damage the health service, potentially opening it up to privatisation but also things like the cost of drugs.

Also, it’s whether we take the necessary steps to tackle climate change. That is part of an international effort but we need to take our efforts to tackle climate change and the climate emergency.

Climate is also a big issue because my opponent is a climate emergency denier.

He doesn’t deny that climate change is taking place, but he doesn’t agree with the scale of action that many people think is needed.

I would like to see electrification of vehicles, railways and a national programme of insulating houses, particularly older terraced houses.

I think this is the biggest challenge facing humanity.

Which of your policies do you think will have the biggest impact on the people of Reading?

If we can find a way of having another referendum that will have a very direct and immediate impact on people in Reading because a majority in this area want to stay and can see a value in the European Union.

People really do warm to that locally.

I believe a lot of people are absolutely sick and tired of austerity.

We have had two GPs shut in Reading East. Our A+E waits are far too long. There’s a lack of police.

Having a government that invested in those services would make a big difference.

There is also a lot of concern about climate change.

Whatever party voters might vote for in the local election, there is a lot of awareness that Labour could deliver real action against climate change in government.

Were you disappointed there could not be a pact between Labour, the Green Party and the Lib Dems?

I didn’t think it was ever going to happen because one of the challenges in politics is the party system means some things are difficult to arrange.

Are you concerned about how close the election could be in Reading East?

Yes. I think it could be extremely close. Maybe down to a few hundred votes, maybe a thousand. It’s really hard to tell.

Polling day is likely to be really different this year because it could be snowing. That could have a big effect on the number of people who vote.

We could easily lose this seat. Every vote will count and I’m campaigning very hard to hold onto this seat, to represent people in parliament, so they will have an MP that wants a second referendum and is pro-remain.

You campaigned a lot on Reading Gaol as MP. How do you feel about how that has gone and what campaigns are you looking to focus on if you’re re-elected?

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the level of interest and support people have given to the jail.

Hopefully we will get a positive result. Jeremy Corbyn has offered to come and read poetry in the jail and his favourite book is from Oscar Wilde.

He really appreciates the campaign. He really thinks its something important to celebrate and commemorate for the future.

I am thinking about a campaign around helping disadvantaged kids but we haven’t got any plans.

One of the things that is quite amazing about Reading is that, although it’s a wealthy town, a lot of people struggle. Housing is in short supply and it’s an expensive place to live.

There is a real need to think of ways to support people facing real difficulties. I was quite a big part of the ‘Toys and Teens’ campaign and things like that are very important.

The cost of renting property in Reading is very high and tenancies aren’t very secure. There are lots of damp and older properties which haven’t been refurbished. It can be a really difficult place to live.

You have to think about what you could do as a small team.

What do you think of Jeremy Corbyn as a leader?

I have been really impressed with him. He is quite a modest man. He has been able to capture the public’s imagination on a lot of issues.

I think he has got an ability to communicate with the public which very few politicians now have.

He is also genuinely radical and can see the changes we need to make to get Britain back to a fairer society.

What’s your view on Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party?

I’m completely opposed to Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. The Labour Party and all political parties need to do a lot more to tackle discrimination.

What about some of the big controversial issues in Reading East such as the lack of pools?

Swimming is a wonderful sport and leisure activity and I want to see people having the opportunity to swim at a local pool.

The council is under immense pressure. Hopefully there will be a new pool soon.

Was it the right decision to close the pool?

It’s very easy to be critical of local authorities.

Some of the protestors are right to be concerned but you have to respect people who have been elected and are trying to do a very difficult job of balancing budgets.

A lot of my family went to Arthur Hill [Swimming Pool]. I want people in East Reading and other areas to have a neighbourhood pool.

The question is how you organise that quickly when there are all sorts of  challenges to council’s budgets.

The East Reading MRT scheme has been put to one side. What needs to be done to tackle congestion?

Having really reliable dedicated bus routes is the way to ease congestion. The question in East Reading is whether that was the right route.

It was turned down because of the potential environmental impact and you can understand why the councillors in Earley opposed it.

Is there another way that protects the riverside area?

One of your contenders, Imogen Shepherd-Dubey, said you toe the party line

I think she is a lovely woman but she has got that wrong. I have views that represent the people of Reading. I have a different perspective to RBC for example.

I took a very different line to a lot of MPs because I opposed Heathrow expansion.

What is your view on your fellow candidates?

I think Imogen is a nice person and so is David. I am please we have had a civilised debate about the issues. I fundamentally disagree with Craig over a few points but so far we have been able to have a civilised discussion.