EXCL Len McCluskey: 'Dark forces' could be trying to undermine Labour
Trade union boss Len McCluskey has suggested that "dark forces" could be trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's attempts to become Prime Minister.
The Unite general secretary's comments came after his chief of staff Andrew Murray, who is also an adviser to the Labour leader, claimed the "deep state" could be working to prevent Mr Corbyn entering Downing Street.
In an interview with The House magazine, Mr McCluskey said: "Of course, there is this view, and my God we’ve lived through it all our lives, that the security forces play an unhealthy role in the democratic processes that exist in our nation, both in trade unions and indeed in our political life.
“Would I be surprised if there were dark forces at play? No. But is it something I particularly worry about? Not at the moment, I haven’t got time to worry about that.
"I’m more concerned about what’s happening in the real world. It’s not something that occupies my mind."
He added: “Remember, I think it was the Daily Mail… they waited for one of my heroes to die, one of the great sons of Liverpool, [trade unionist] Jack Jones. And when he was dead of course you can’t then bring libel cases. They ran a two-page article, I think it was on him being a KGB spy – utter nonsense, deeply offensive to a decent and genuine man.
“And the same with [The Times and] Michael Foot. But of course, that then puts the whole issue of today about well, are they still up to those kinds of tricks, into the arena. It’s not something that occupies my mind.”
Meanwhile, Mr McCluskey also risked a fresh Labour row by insisting it would be "dangerous" for Remain to be on the ballot paper if there is another EU referendum.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, received a rapturous ovation when he used his Labour conference speech to insist that "nobody is ruling out Remain as an option".
That came after the party's position appeared to be mired in confusion, with both Mr McCluskey and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell appearing to rule it out.
But doubling down, Mr McCluskey insisted any fresh vote must only be on whether or not voters accept the deal Theresa May secures from Brussels, not an attempt to overturn the original result.
“Keir made a speech and fair enough, but [Jeremy] Corbyn to me is the person that at the moment is saying a few important things - we will respect the decision of the British people to leave the European Union,” he said.
He added: "In my view, it should be about the deal. I think it would be dangerous to reopen the divisions that we had in the referendum.”
The Labour party has said it would call for a general election in the event Mrs May is defeated in the Commons later this year on Brexit.
But Mr McCluskey recognised the “Achilles Heel” of that argument in having to rely on Tory MPs to force an early vote – and that the party should call for a referendum in the event it could not secure a snap election.
“So, in that scenario, we would campaign to reject the deal and if the people rejected the deal, including the Leave voters, who would understand by rejecting the deal doesn’t mean that they are changing their mind about coming out of Europe, then the government would fall, and we would have to then have a general election. So, they’re the scenarios that I see,” he said.
Mr McCluskey also argued Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker would be “happy” to extend Article 50 in the event of a general election.
Asked if Leave voters would see extending the UK’s exit from the EU as a betrayal, he replied: “No, not really, so long as the Leave voters understood that nobody was trying to thwart their decision to leave the European Union.
"Jeremy Corbyn has said over and over again that he respects the decision of the people and if Labour were in power, we would leave the European Union.”