EXCL John McDonnell tells Jeremy Corbyn Labour's Brexit position is 'like slow-moving car crash'

Posted On: 
25th June 2019

John McDonnell told Jeremy Corbyn that Labour's Brexit position was "like a slow-moving car crash" as the party again delayed making a final decision on whether to back a second referendum.

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have been close political allies for decades.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor - a key ally of the Labour leader - made his comments at a fractious meeting of the Shadow Cabinet.

Mr McDonnell had said on Monday that he believed there would be "white smoke" following the weekly get-together.

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But Mr Corbyn told his top team that he wanted to delay making a decision for another two weeks to allow him to continue talks with trade union leaders.

PoliticsHome revealed that Unite and the CWU are still refusing to support a second referendum, despite most unions affiliated to Labour now being on board.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry repeatedly said a decision needed to be taken straight away, telling Mr Corbyn: "This is about leadership."

Mr McDonnell asked whether he had been wrong to think a decision would be made at the Shadow Cabinet meeting, adding: "This whole situation is like a slow-moving car crash."

Deputy Leader Tom Watson and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer backed Ms Thornberry and Mr McDonnell, while Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott - another ally of Mr Corbyn - told the party leader he did not understand how much discontent there was among party members on the issue."

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said Labour "should have the courage of our socialist principles" and support a second referendum and staying in the EU.

Labour MPs and second referendum campaigners reacted with dismay to the outcome of the meeting.

Neil Coyle MP said: "The Labour leader is responsible for trying to get Labour policies in government. We have suffered defeats because of our Brexit fudge, and to be so out of sync with our members, their views and our party's values is shocking and risks facilitating more Tory government.

"Members are desperate to see the Labour party move, but the leadership seems totally dependent on one trade union leader giving his permission to change party policy. That's an unacceptable situation."