SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell was asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday morning: ‘When is Jeremy Corbyn going to come out for a new vote and say “We’re the party of Remain” and “Vote Labour for Remain”?’
McDonnell replied: ‘We need to express a view now which is clear. As I said, I will vote Remain, I’d want to campaign for Remain.’
Marr asked: ‘Does “now” mean that we might get a clearer picture of the position this week?’
McDonnell replied: ‘He’s got further meetings with the trade unions over the next week. There will be further discussions in Shadow Cabinet.’
Marr said: ‘Can I ask you directly. Have you said to Jeremy Corbyn that he should sack Seamus Milne and Karie Murphy?’
McDonnell replied: ‘I’ve not said he should sack anybody.’
McDonnell was asked about reports that up to half a dozen Labour staff members have been warned by law firm Carter Ruck that they face possible legal action for breaking their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
McDonnell said the party was ‘reminding them of their confidentiality agreement’ and that this is important in cases where employees ‘are dealing with individual cases, individual information and individual members’.
He described stories in the Sunday newspapers about splits in the party as ‘myths and rubbish’ and denied that he had demanded that Corbyn sack chief of staff Murphy and director of communications Milne.
The Labour Party issued a formal complaint to the BBC’s director general yesterday over a new attack on the Corbyn leadership which is being launched this week in an hour-long Panorama programme being broadcast on Wednesday night.
In it up to half a dozen former Labour Party staff members accuse Murphy and Milne of intervening to defend members who have been targetted in the anti-Semitism witchhunt which has been whipped up against the Corbyn leadership over the past three years.
Marr said to McDonnell: ‘Now, Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has been promoting a kind of sign up for a referendum motion, and what it says is this: “The Labour Remain Declaration. As the party of Remain we will not take every voter with us, but it’s the only way that Labour can win. The next step needs to be a public vote on the Brexit fiasco with Labour leading the way for Remain.” Is there a syllable there you could disagree with?’
McDonnell replied: ‘Not an awful lot. I think Tom’s expressed his view.’
McDonnell went on: ‘I would vote Remain and I’d want to campaign for Remain as well.’
Marr asked: ‘Would you sign up for that declaration yourself?’
McDonnell replied: ‘Well, I think a lot of the sentiments in that declaration I’ve echoed already.’
Shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner attacked the forthcoming Panorama programme, describing it as ‘neither balanced or impartial’.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday demanded that the party should in future ‘immediately’ expel any member accused of anti-Semitism.