Pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to ditch Labour Brexit deal as two closest allies back Remain in any circumstances

Posted On: 
20th August 2019

Pressure is mounting on Jeremy Corbyn to ditch Labour’s policy of getting a new Brexit deal as two of his closest allies said they want to stay in the EU whatever the circumstances.

Two of his Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies say they will back remain regardless of the other option in a second referendum
Credit: 
PA Images

Diane Abbott said she and John McDonnell will “personally be campaigning for Remain” if there is another referendum.

She confirmed this will be the case even if the other option on the ballot paper is a Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by their own party leader.

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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Shadow Home Secretary said staying in the bloc was the "best option for the country and for my constituents".

She said: "We are, of course, the party's committed to a referendum now and Jeremy's (Corbyn) made that clear and if there is a referendum and if Remain is on the ballot paper and there's every expectation it will be, I - like John McDonnell - personally will be campaigning for Remain."

Mr McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, had told the same programme yesterday: “I think generally people want to provide the electorate with a choice.

“I’ve made it clear from my personal position that I’ll be campaigning for Remain. I think that’s the best choice.

“But people will want to have a say and see whether there is another option. But we’ve had that debate in Parliament and that’s why I’ve come down in favour of Remain, because I can’t see one that will have the same benefits as Remain.”

Afterwards Ms Abbott tweeted: “Great interview by John McDonnell on Brexit. He says when there is a Brexit referendum he will campaign for Remain. So will I.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry replied to her by tweeting: “And so will I Diane.”

After Mr Corbyn, the three of them are the most senior members of the Shadow Cabinet and their stance, which goes beyond the official party position, will increase pressure on the Labour leader ahead of a potential election campaign.

The party has previously indicated if there was a second referendum while they were still in opposition they would back Remain over a “Tory Brexit deal”.

But last month, Mr Corbyn wrote to members saying Labour’s plan for a compromise deal with Brussels remains their official policy if they got into power themselves.

The Labour leader said: “We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.”

And asked at a speech in Corby on Monday if that was still the plan, he said: “In a general election, we will put forward the opportunity for people in this country to have the final say.

“It is not a rerun of 2016. It is simply saying the people of this country should make the final decision.

“If it is no deal versus Remain then obviously John McDonnell and others made it very clear we would support Remain.

“If there is the opportunity for some other option to be put then that will be put. I want to bring people together.”

Ms Abbott said Labour woud "come to a democratic decision" on Brexit.

But she said of Mr Corbyn: "He can't stay to the side on an issue like this - what he can do is bring the two sides together.

"The party and the shadow cabinet will have to debate this and arrive at a position - whatever the position is Jeremy will follow what the party says."