Alan Johnson blasts Jeremy Corbyn for 'undermining' Remain campaign efforts

Posted On: 
27th June 2016

Alan Johnson has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “undermining” Labour’s efforts to keep Britain in the European Union. 

Alan Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
PA Images

Mr Johnson, who led Labour In For Britain, said he felt the Labour leader’s office had at times been “working against the rest of the party”.

Will Straw, who led the cross-party Britain Stronger In Europe campaign, has also laid into Mr Corbyn today and called for him to resign.

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In a letter to fellow Labour MPs today, Mr Johnson said he accepted his “share of responsibility” for the referendum defeat, and paid tribute to the work of the party staff and activists.

“They cannot be blamed for the outcome and should be very proud of the work they did,” the former Cabinet minister said.

“Everyone else needs to make their own assessment as to whether more could have been done to prevent this disastrous result. I will certainly do this, as I hope will the Leader’s Office. At times it felt as if they were working against the rest of the party and had conflicting objectives.

“I was proud to work with some great people who tried their very best to get the result we all wanted. Nobody in the leadership had the right to undermine their efforts.”

Mr Corbyn’s commitment to the cause of remaining in the EU has frequently been questioned, with resigning Shadow Cabinet minister Chris Bryant suggesting today that the Labour leader may even have voted Leave.

The referendum result has also triggered a revolt against Mr Corbyn’s leadership, as frontbenchers seek to force Mr Corbyn out through a strategy of rolling resignations.

Mr Corbyn also refused to work with the cross-party Stronger In campaign and rejected opportunities to make a united case with David Cameron to stay in the EU.

Mr Straw, who stood as a Labour candidate in last year’s general election, used a blog reflecting on the defeat to deliver a scathing verdict on Mr Corbyn’s contribution.

“Jeremy Corbyn should follow David Cameron’s lead [and resign],” Mr Straw said.

“Rather than making a clear and passionate Labour case for EU membership, Corbyn took a week’s holiday in the middle of the campaign and removed pro-EU lines from his speeches.

“Rather than finding imaginative ways for Labour to present a united front and get its message across to wavering supporters, Corbyn vetoed a planned event featuring all Labour’s former leaders.

“Rather than confronting concerns about immigration with Labour’s values of contribution and reciprocity, Corbyn distanced himself from the manifesto commitment to restrict in work benefits for new arrivals to this country and planned a trip to Turkey to talk about ‘open borders’.”