Theresa May tells Jeremy Corbyn to call trade union Labour donors and end Southern rail strike

Posted On: 
14th December 2016

Theresa May has urged Jeremy Corbyn to intervene on union bosses who donate to the Labour party and urge them to call off a crippling train strike.

Southern rail drivers are on their second day of a 48 hour strike
PA Images

The Prime Minister said the Leader of the Opposition should “get on the phone” and put a stop to industrial action on Southern rail “immediately”.

Drivers are into their second day of a 48 hour strike over whether they or conductors should close the train doors.

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Talks are being held today between Southern and the RMT and Aslef unions at the conciliation service Acas, after more than 2,200 services on the beleaguered rail line were cancelled on Tuesday.

At Prime Minister’s Questions today Tory MP Tim Loughton asked Mrs May to assure Acas helps “end this nonsense of a strike... and give our constituents their lives back".

The Prime Minister responded: “I hope the talks at Acas are going to lead to an end of the strike.

“I've got a suggestion for the Leader of the Opposition... the Labour party is funded by Aslef, why doesn't he get on the phone and tell them to call the strike off immediately?"

She added: “This is an appalling strike. He [Mr Lougton] is right to raise the discrepancy in the attitude of Aslef.

“We've seen driver-only operated trains in the UK for decades - they are on the ThamesLink train.”


Labour has come out in defence of the unions on the issue, with Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald accusing the Government of “playing the blame game”.

“To attempt to pin the blame for Southern’s miserable service on trade unions rather than the incompetence of management and government ministers is an insult to long suffering passengers,” he said.

He went on: “As commuters are well aware, Southern’s sub-standard service predates any industrial action and trains are cancelled, late and dangerously overcrowded every day regardless of strike action.”

The Labour Party has received more than £60,000 from Aslef since Mr Corbyn was elected leader. The union also gave the left-winger £20,000 for his recent leadership campaign.

Elsewhere during Prime Minister’s Questions, Green MP Caroline Lucas called for “passive” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to be sacked over the debacle.

But Mrs May stood by her Cabinet minister, and listed the support offered to both Southern rail and season ticket holders. 

It emerged this morning that ministers are mulling emergency legislation to guarantee that at least half of all train services keep running during a strike.