Labour grandee Alan Johnson lays into Jeremy Corbyn's 'risible' EU campaign efforts

Posted On: 
30th June 2016

Labour grandee Alan Johnson has laid bare his criticism of Jeremy Corbyn's “risible” performance in the EU referendum campaign as he tore into the party leader.

Alan Johnson
PA Images

In a letter to colleagues seen by PoliticsHome, the head of Labour's EU Remain campaign said people in Mr Corbyn's office were “actively undermining the party's efforts” with the leader "at best" unable to control them or "at worst" sympathetic to their views.

In a separate email Mr Johnson also outlined in astonishing terms why he backed the vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn which drew support from 80% of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

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Mr Corbyn repeatedly came under-fire during the EU campaign for not having a high enough profile and being unclear in his support for a Remain vote.

The left-winger insisted he was making the case repeatedly and clearly, but has taken further flak since the Brexit result which triggered an outright civil war in the party.

More than 50 members of his shadow ministerial team resigned in the wake of the vote while a string of senior figures in the party have urged him to quit.

In his letter Mr Johnson offers a damning critique of Mr Corbyn's performance in the campaign and raised the prospect that those closest to the leader sought to thwart Labour's efforts in a bid for a Brexit victory.

“The lukewarm approach by Jeremy was bad enough but there is no doubt in my mind that at least three of his closest associates in the leader's office were actively undermining the party's efforts,” he wrote.

“They wanted Leave to succeed and at best Jeremy could not control them; at worst he was sympathetic to their views.”

Mr Johnson added: “Either way his performance in the campaign was risible and a taster for what to expect in a general election.

“The fact that he refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever adds insult to injury.”


In a separate email Mr Johnson said Labour would “walk into a third consecutive election defeat” with Mr Corbyn at its helm.

"We in the Parliamentary Party have observed at first hand his woeful performances in the Commons, his inability to take responsibility, demonstrate leadership or give the slightest indication that he is capable of moving beyond meaningless platitudes,” he wrote.

“Anti-austerity is a slogan not a policy. To beat the Tories we need something more than Jeremy's conviction that the support he has amongst the membership, particularly those who joined to get him elected, will somehow translate to the public at large.”

He added: “We cannot go into another general election with an unpopular leader. We can't walk into a third consecutive election defeat.”