Fri, 28 January 2022

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Jeremy Corbyn ally warns him to back second referendum in outspoken attack on his leadership

Jeremy Corbyn ally warns him to back second referendum in outspoken attack on his leadership
3 min read

A close ally of Jeremy Corbyn has warned him that his supporters are deserting him over Labour's failure to wholeheartedly back a second EU referendum.

In an outspoken attack at a meeting of Labour MPs and peers, Marie Rimmer - who backs a so-called people's vote - said that even she had found it difficult to vote for the party at last month's European elections.

Speaking directy to Mr Corbyn, she said: "People who have supported and worked with you for years are turning away from you. The leadership’s not there."

Ms Rimmer, the MP for St Helens South, urged the Labour boss to ignore the advice of his closest aides on Brexit  and instead respond to what the party's members want.

One MP told PoliticsHome: "Marie Rimmer and Corbyn’s parliamentary privae secretary, Kate Hollern, are inseparable - best friends. It shows how much trouble he is in."

Her comments came at a bad-tempered meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the first Mr Corbyn has attended since Labour's disappointing performance at the European elections.

Hove MP Peter Kyle, who also supports a second referendum, asked Mr Corbyn: "What is the plan? We need to know you have a plan and a strategy to lead us out of the mire."

Earlier, the Labour leader had indicated that he was not prepared to shift the party's Brexit strategy, which is to push for a general election rather than another referendum.

He said: "To break the Brexit deadlock, we need to go back to the people. Let the people decide the country’s future, either in a general election or through a public vote on any deal agreed by Parliament."

The Labour leader also came under attack from his MPs over the party's response to anti-semitism and sexual harassment of women.

Stoke MP Ruth Smeeth accused Mr Corbyn of allowing "institutional anti Jewish racism on your watch" and added: "Jeremy, what are you doing."

And Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips told the meeting that complaints made by women about harassment are not dealt with properly because "people get protected if they are part of the cult of Corbyn".

One Labour MP said it had been the "worst" PLP meeting he had ever attended.

"On Brexit, anti-semitism and sexual harassment he has no idea how to respond or deal with it, just the repetition of tired old cliches," they said.

But a Labour source said: "The PLP is generally quite a robust meeting - I wouldn't say that tonight was more robust than many others.

"The PLP is very passionate about lots of issues, not just about Brexit. That's what you would expect and they want to be able to raise issues they disagree with and want Jeremy to respond to."

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