John McDonnell: Resigning ministers do not have Labour's interests at heart

Posted On: 
7th January 2016

John McDonnell has stepped up his attack on the Labour MPs who quit the frontbench yesterday, accusing them of not acting in the interests of the party. 

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

The three MPs who resigned were also today branded a “disaffected group of uber-Blairites” by Ken Livingstone, as allies of Jeremy Corbyn hit back at criticism of the Labour leader.

Jonathan Reynolds, Kevan Jones and Stephen Doughty quit their posts yesterday in protest at the reshuffle by Mr Corbyn.



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Mr Reynolds and Mr Doughty cited the sacking of Pat McFadden in their resignation letters, while Mr Jones resigned over anti-Trident Emily Thornberry's appointment as Shadow Defence Secretary.

Mr McDonnell said yesterday the three MPs were part of a “right-wing clique” associated with Blairite campaign group Progress.

He added to Channel 4 News some within Progress were “quite hard right”.

The Shadow Chancellor
doubled down on his criticism on Sky Newsthis afternoon.

“I think it makes sure that people are clear about what those people’s objectives were,” he said of his “clique” comments.

“I don’t think they had the interest of the Labour party in the long-term at heart, I think they pursued their own particular narrow politics. But I’m hoping now that we can convince them to get back on board and start working with us, the rest of the party.

“Remember, Jeremy Corbyn had the largest mandate of any... elected leader of the Labour party. I want people to respect that now, and enable us to unite and campaign against the Tories and expose exactly what David Cameron and George Osborne are doing to our country.”


Meanwhile, Mr Livingstone came to the defence of Diane Abbott, the Shadow International Development Secretary who irked Mr Reynolds when she claimed wrongly on Newsnight that he had been a special adviser.

Mr Reynolds said on Twitter Ms Abbott was a “total sell-out” while pointing out he had not, as Ms Abbott claimed, taken the path of politics student to special adviser to MP.

Mr Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and now co-chair of Labour’s defence review,
told the Daily Politics: “Diane is responding to this wave of backstabbing by this disaffected group of uber-Blairites.

“She is responding to what has been a consistent attempt by a disaffected group of MPs to undermine Jeremy Corbyn from the day he was selected.”

Mr Livingstone claimed Mr Corbyn’s advisers had been left “distraught” at the briefings from anti-Corbyn MPs as speculation mounted that a "revenge reshuffle" was on the cards.

The former London Mayor said he backed the decision to sack Mr McFadden for "disloyalty" over comments in which he attacked those who claim the actions of the West are to blame for Islamist terrorism.