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Thu, 4 June 2020

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Triumphant Diane Abbott declares: 'No one can now remember that they supported Tony Blair'

Triumphant Diane Abbott declares: 'No one can now remember that they supported Tony Blair'

John Ashmore

2 min read

Diane Abbott has hailed the triumph of the Labour left, claiming that "no one can now remember that they supported Tony Blair". 

The Shadow Home Secretary said the former Prime Minister’s repeated attacks on Jeremy Corbyn had only served to boost the Labour leader.

And she rounded on centrist critics in the parliamentary party, arguing that Labour could be in power now if they had not been so critical of Mr Corbyn’s leadership in the 18 months before the last election.

Mr Corbyn's supporters got another boost this week with the election of three left-wingers to the party’s National Executive Committee, tipping the balance of power on the powerful body in his favour.

Speaking to Prospect magazine, Ms Abbott - a key ally of the Labour leader - said Mr Blair’s supporters had been cowed by the recent success of Labour’s left.

“Even Blairites don’t call themselves Blairites," she said. "It’s one of those things - no one can now remember that they supported Tony Blair.

“During the leadership election, every time he went on television slagging off Jeremy we were all going ‘yes please, do it some more’. There was a spike in our support when Blair said, ‘on no account can you vote for this man.’

The Hackney North MP accused her Labour colleagues of "abusing" Mr Corbyn during the first 18 months of his leadership.

“Now we made up the ground over the course of the general election, but if the PLP had not been so hostile, who’s to say whether we might not have won that election?” she said.


During the same interview, Ms Abbott appeared confused about Labour’s policy on remaining in the EU’s customs union after Brexit.

“We’re certainly going to stay in the single market and customs union during the transition, and I believe what we’re saying is that we’re going to be staying in the customs union after that,” she said.

She then turned to an adviser, asking “I think that’s what they’re saying, isn’t it?”, before eventually replying that “nothing’s off the table”.

And she left the door open to her party backing another EU referendum, saying that it “not currently Labour policy to have a second referendum”.