Stephen Kinnock: John McDonnell's attack on Richard Branson 'looks like retaliation' for Traingate

Posted On: 
29th August 2016

John McDonnell's call for Sir Richard Branson to be stripped of his knighthood "looks like retaliation" for the Traingate row, according to Stephen Kinnock.

Stephen Kinnock has criticised John McDonnell
PA Images

The Labour MP said the Shadow Chancellor's attack detracted from legitimate criticism of the honours system.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror yesterday, Mr McDonnell accused Sir Richard of being a “tax exile who thinks he can try and intervene and ­undermine our democracy”.

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His intervention came after the billionaire tycoon denied Jeremy Corbyn's claim that he could not get a seat on a "ram-packed" Virgin Trains service from London to Newcastle.

The company produced CCTV footage which proved the Labour leader had walked past several empty seats, and had managed to find somewhere to sit.

Mr McDonnell said: "The whole purpose of the honours system is undermined when the rich and the powerful can collect their gongs without giving anything back.

“It’s even worse when tax exiles are given honours.”

He added: “It should be a simple choice for the mega-rich. Run off to tax exile if you want. But you leave your titles and your honours behind when you go.”

Appearing on Radio 4's Westminster Hour last night, Aberavon MP Mr Kinnock - a critic of Mr Corbyn - said: "I think that actually John McDonnell really has a point about our honours system, which doesn’t work and needs a serious look, but I regret the timing of John coming out with that because the problem with what he’s doing is it just looks like it’s retaliation based specifically on what’s happened with Jeremy and Traingate.

"Unfortunately, we’ve taken what is a very serious issue about the way the system works and it’s been somehow devalued by the timing of what John has done so I would regret that."