EXCL Labour send out briefing to MPs with questions designed to embarrass party's own frontbench

Posted On: 
11th September 2018

Labour officials have been left red-faced after giving their MPs a document suggesting they ask embarrassing questions about their own frontbench.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell's record on terror has been put under the microscope.
PA Images

The briefing note was on the Government's Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill being debated in the Commons today.

It was sent out to Labour MPs on Monday evening on Parliamentary Labour Party-headed paper by the Shadow Home Office team, and with the contact details of one of Diane Abbott's advisers.

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But in an apparent mix-up, the five-page document - a copy of which has been leaked to PoliticsHome - explains why the legislation is necessary and sets out how it will boost the UK's ability to crack down on terrorism.

Embarrassingly, it also contains a point-by-point guide on how to challenge Labour attacks on the bill.

Under 'key political points', it says: "Corbyn voted against the banning of Al-Qaeda six months before 9/11. He voted against the Terrorism Act 2000."

Another attack line says: "Diane Abbott described counter-terrorism laws as 'pointless': We need protection from terrorism, but pointless laws serve no purpose"."

The final point adds: "Jeremy Corbyn voted against 13 counter-terror laws, including the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act: "

Elsewhere, the briefing even suggests questions to ask to embarrass the Labour frontbench.

One says: "Does my Right Honourable Friend agree that we should take no lectures on keeping our country safe from the party opposite, where the Right Honourable Memeber for Hackney North (Diane Abbott) has said the MI5 and Special Branch should be abolished and the Right Honourable Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) has said the police should be disarmed and MI5 abolished."



The briefing was emailed out at around 5.24pm on Tuesday and, once the mix-up had been spotted, was recalled at 5.27pm. The correct briefing was then sent out at 5.44pm.

A Labour source said: "Someone clearly got hold of the Tory brief, mistakenly branded it as the PLP brief and sent it out to all Labour MPs. It's an absolutely extraordinary level of incompetence."

The Labour party has been approached for comment.