Jeremy Corbyn under fire from Labour MPs over party's European election campaign

Posted On: 
13th May 2019

Labour MPs have launched a furious attack on the party's European election campaign - warning Jeremy Corbyn they risk being "washed away" by angry voters.

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning during the EU referendum in 2016.
Credit: 
PA Images

At an fiery meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a succession of backbenchers - including Corbyn loyalist Lloyd Russell-Moyle - lined up to demand greater "clarity" in the message being put out.

MPs complained that they were being banned from putting out their own campaign literature by Labour HQ, while a leaflet produced by the Usdaw union backing another referendum has also been blocked by party bosses.

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The Labour leader said he understood the "frustration" of his MPs, but insisted the party's anti-austerity message would bear fruit when the country goes to the polls on 23 May.

On Monday, a YouGov poll put Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party on 34%, with Labour on 21% and the Tories on just 10%.

Hove MP Peter Kyle, who backs a second referendum, told Mr Corbyn: "Jeremy, I urge you to simplify our policy to make people realise that we are talking with absolute sincerity."

In an impassioned speech, anti-Brexit Brighton Kempton MP Mr Russell-Moyle said local Labour were not being allowed to tailor their election messages for local voters and said that was putting the "kybosh" on the party's campaign.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray  said Labour needed to learn the lessons of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, which ultimately led to the party losing all but one of its seats north of the Border in the 2015 general election.

He said: "We are not learning the lesson of 2014. My party members aren’t voting Labour as our EU message is awful. And we are putting out leaflets in Scotland that say 'vote Labour to stop Farage'. That will not work.

"If the UK dam bursts, Jeremy will be responsible for washing all of us away and the Labour party with it."

Mr Corbyn told the meeting: "I do understand the frustrations about campaign material and the way in which they have been put to people. I'll be taking action immediately to make sure you get answers"

He added: "I understand the need for a clear message. I don't want to be in a position where voters don't understand what we're saying.

"The only way is to strengthen our message in an understandable, simpler way - I get that."

NEGOTIATIONS

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn also took aim at Theresa May as the Brexit deadlock between Labour and the Government continued.

The latest round of talks broke up with no "substantive" progress having been made, increasing the chances of the negotiations collapsing altogether.

The Labour leader said: "The Government's red lines have not changed and the idea that Tory MPs are going to come round to any time soon to accept the deal is fanciful."