John McDonnell apologises for 'hit list' of Labour MPs leaked by Jeremy Corbyn campaign

Posted On: 
15th September 2016

John McDonnell has apologised on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign after they issued a "hit list" of Labour MPs accused of being abusive to party colleagues.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has issued a fresh call for Labour unity
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor said he was "furious" at the apparent gaffe, which happened shortly before Mr Corbyn and Owen Smith went head-to-head in a live TV debate.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson was among the 13 MPs named in the list, which also included John Woodcock, Ian Austin, Owen Coyle, Jamie Reed and Jess Phillips.

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A spokesman for Mr Corbyn's campaign was also quoted demanding Mr Smith apologise for his supporters' behaviour.

junior member of the campaign team was blamed for the "unauthorised" leak, but in a statement issued this afternoon Mr McDonnell took responsibility.

He said: "Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear time and time again that he categorically rejects negative campaigning and personal attacks.

"I apologise on behalf of the campaign for the statement that was released yesterday in error. It was completely counter-productive. As Jeremy has said, it is imperative that we now do all we can to unify our party."

At an event in London earlier, Mr McDonnell said: "“It just set us back. And I was furious about it, to be frank, absolutely furious.

“We will certainly have a conversation with all those that were involved.”

He added: “It was briefing note that shouldn’t have gone out and we apologised for that. It certainly wasn’t a list in any way to attack anyone. It was just a factual report.”

Labour MP Anna Turley, who was one of the MPs named in the list, said she “really appreciated” Mr McDonnell’s apology, but added of the leak: “It smacks of a sort of chaos and incompetence and a kind of student politics that is floating around in that team at the moment.”

Another of those named on the list, John Woodcock, has written to Chief Whip Rosie Winterton and Labour general secretary Iain McNicol to complain.

Another who appeared on the list told PoliticsHome: "With one breath Jeremy calls for unity and with the next they publish this hit-list. I think members will be really dismayed.

"None of the MPs they're targeting has ever talked about splitting the party. The only person who has done that is John McDonnell."


Mr Corbyn meanwhile insisted he would have a “full team” of shadow ministers once the ongoing leadership campaign is over.

Following the EU referendum Mr Corbyn faced an overwhelming vote of no confidence and a wave of shadow ministerial resignations.

Today he insisted he was “keen on providing olive branches” to colleagues and revealed he had adopted a physical symbol of peacemaking in his own office.

“As a practical start for this I’m growing an olive tree on the balcony of my office and it’s doing very, very well. It’s thriving,” he said.