Shadow Chancellor retreats from push toward ‘referendum before GE’ on Johnson deal
John McDonnell is in ‘full retreat’ after accepting at today’s meeting of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet that the party’s conference policy means there can be no public vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit because it is not a credible deal, according to MPs. McDonnell, together with Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry, came out last week for the idea pushed by Tom Watson that a new referendum must be held before any general election.
MPs who were strong-armed into echoing a ‘referendum before general election’ argument in the weekend’s media are said to be livid at being compromised.
One MP said:
This is just typical – he marched us up to the top of the hill and marched us down again. Now he’s in full retreat.
Another said McDonnell was visibly affected by the grassroots outcry against any attempt to overturn the party’s conference decision to support Corbyn’s ‘prevent no-deal, then GE’ plan.
Public contributions from Jon Trickett and other MPs representing leave-voting constituencies added to the pressure.
The party’s northern MPs are now in discussions to build on their successful rearguard action by caucusing as a parliamentary bloc. One, speaking of an attempted ‘remainer take-over’ to force Labour to into a full ‘stop Brexit’ mode, said:
We need to make sure no one region of Labour can ever acquire this much dominance over policy and the narrative again. The north fought back and this episode has taught us that when we stand united we can make our voice heard.
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