Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell will stand down if Labour lose next election
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Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell will stand down if Labour lose next election

Shadow Chancellor makes remarks during interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Photo credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Photo credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell would stand down if Labour loses the next election, the shadow chancellor has said.

Mr Corbyn’s election to leader in 2015 was a major coup for the left wing of the party.

But Mr McDonnell said he “can’t see” how he or close ally Mr Corbyn could continue to lead the party if they failed to win power after the next general election.

“I can’t see… I think it is the same for my own personal position, I can’t see so,” he told Mr Campbell, on the subject of either himself or Mr Corbyn carrying on in their roles after an election defeat.

“What we’d do is as the tradition, which is have an election for a new leader.”

He made the comments in an interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine.

This comes as the Labour Party has been dogged by its handling of antisemitism in the party and its position on Brexit.

On antisemitism, Campbell told McDonnell people not involved in politics would “probably mention antisemitism” if asked about the Labour Party, saying it’s an issue “where you haven’t brought people together.”

Asked if he’s happy with how the row has been handled by the party, McDonnell said “no I’m not, and I think we should have been firmer, more ruthless and faster [in tackling the issue.]”

“We are on top of that now, but we are learning lessons all the time.”

Campbell interjected, saying the party had been “damaged” by it, to which the shadow chancellor responded “of course it has. But look at the contrast in the way the media has treated us and antisemitism, and Islamophobia within the Tory party, it’s a disgrace.”

This comes in the wake of two local Labour parties (CLPs) trying to oust Jewish MPs Dame Louise Ellman and Dame Margaret Hodge.  Ellman faced a no confidence vote on the eve of Yom Kippur, while Hodge was threatened with a trigger ballot.

Reflecting on the process of deselections for MPs, McDonnell said: “On all those deselections, the one thing that Jeremy has said, is that local people will decide. That’s why he’s been really clear. We need to get those selections over and done with.”

During the interview, Campbell asks McDonnell a series of quickfire questions, including whether he prefers Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Russian strongman, Vladmir Putin.

The shadow chancellor responds “neither. Putin because of what he’s done in terms of turning Russia into what is effectively a gangster state, and Netanyahu because of his treatment of the Palestinians. And also because of the complete failure to try and bring people together.”

He told Mr Campbell how Nazi swastikas and a sign saying “Leave means Leave” was sprayed onto a nursery in his London constituency after the Daily Mail newspaper “did a number” on him.

He also spoke about the BBC documentary ‘The Rise of The Nazis‘, reflecting on comparisons between the rise of the far-right today, and in the 1930s, before the Holocaust.

“We’ve not had that in this constituency in maybe 40 years. Those are the sorts of forces Johnson risks unleashing and I think he needs to realise the dangers there are in that,” he said.

Shadow cabinet minister Mr McDonnell said a woman should take over from the current leader and named shadow education secretary Angela Rayner as a possible successor to Mr Corbyn.

Despite discussing the process for replacing Mr Corbyn, the Labour number two said the Opposition party could “win a majority”.

Mr McDonnell said Labour could win a fresh poll outright but, should an election produce another hung parliament, his party would not strike any deals or form a coalition.

If working as a minority government fails, then he said Labour would request an immediate return to the polls, invoking memories of 1974 when Britain held two elections, with the second giving Labour a slim majority.

 

 

 

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