John McDonnell piles pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to back Remain in second referendum
John McDonnell has piled pressure on Jeremy Corbyn for Labour to back Remain in a second referendum “sooner rather than later”.
The shadow Chancellor, who said he would vote and campaign to stay in the EU in another public vote, has urged the party leader to take a new position ahead of a potential Boris Johnson government.
Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the Labour frontbencher admitted time was running out as Mr Corbyn continued talks with trade unions over the party’s next step.
He said: “Where I’ve expressed a view I’ve said look we need to express a view now which is clearly, as I said, I will vote Remain, I want to campaign for Remain but what Jeremy is rightfully doing...let’s talk to people, bring them together, build consensus and then go for it and that’s what he’s doing at the moment.”
But pressed whether he had time to do so, Mr McDonnell added: “That’s the issue I’ve said to Jeremy, because if Boris does call a General Election in September, we won’t even have a conference to decide these matters.
“That’s why we need to decide early and get on with it and that’s why he’s talking to people now to bring them together.”
The close ally of Mr Corbyn did not comment as to whether a fresh Labour position could be laid out this week, but said further talks with trade unions and the Shadow Cabinet were going ahead.
He added: “I actually think he’s doing the right thing, everything about Jeremy is about building consensus and on this issue you need to bring people with you.
“I’ve said we need to get to a position sooner rather than later because I genuinely do believe, like you, that Boris Johnson will come in, get a little bit of a bounce in the polls, he’ll maybe go for a walk in the welsh hills like Theresa May, be over confident and then call a General Election at the beginning of September.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr McDonnell rejected claims that he told Mr Corbyn to sack top aides from the party, dismissing it as “myth” and “rubbish”.
He added: “I’ve not told anyone to be sacked or anything like that, this is all myth.
“Jeremy and I talk about policies on a daily basis, yes we disagree on things but we’ll then come to an agreement, he’ll build consensus just as he always does and then we back each other up.”