LABOUR’S Shadow Chancellor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that he is part of a movement in parliament to take Brexit ‘out of her (PM May’s) hands’ and prevent a ‘no deal Brexit’.
First Marr asked Airbus Senior Vice President Katherine Bennett: ‘Can I start off by talking about this Super Jumbo and the cancellation of that. That is, to be clear, nothing to do with Brexit?’
Bennett agreed: ‘It’s nothing to do with Brexit.’
Marr then interviewed McDonnell, saying: ‘You are talking about avoiding no deal and your main offer has been made to the prime minister – “here is our version of a Brexit deal with a customs union and so forth”. She has quite blatantly said “no” to that already. Do you accept that?’
McDonnell responded: ‘At this stage, at this stage. I think it will come back. We’ll see what she brings back. What we’ve been saying to her, very, very clearly and parliament has said this as well, that we need now to have a serious discussion, which must be by the end of this month.
‘We’ve put our proposals on the table, we’re willing to negotiate around those, they’re the basics of what we think could secure parliamentary approval.
‘But she has to start negotiating as well. We’ve been waiting for two years before that phone was picked up. It’s been picked up in the last couple of weeks and we’re engaged in that.’
He went on to claim: ‘Mr Barnier and others have welcomed our proposals and he’s welcomed them on the basis of negotiations.’
He continued: ‘All negotiations are give and take. The problem with the prime minister’s negotiations was it never really was based upon mutual interests or mutual respect. It was about banging the table and then walking away. That’s not what we’re about. That’s why we want no deal ruled off the table.’
Asked why he was not calling and campaigning for another referendum, McDonnell replied: ‘Let’s go through the phasing of all this. We said we will reject any proposal that has an impact on jobs or the economy which is deleterious. That’s what we’ve done.’
He added: ‘Now’s the time. We’re saying to the government you’ve got to come back with a realistic deal. If it doesn’t fly within parliament the option of going back to the people has got to be there.’
He went on: ‘We’re in a situation now where parliament is literally taking it out of her hands and saying parliament’s got to agree this.’
Marr quoted Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey’s warning: ‘Having another referendum threatens the whole democratic fabric on which we operate.’
McDonnell responded: ‘You’d only go back to the people in extremis if you can’t get a deal agreed through parliament or if any deal you thought wasn’t going to protect jobs and the economy.’