McDonnell in heartfelt appeal to Remainers drifting from Labour

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he and Jeremy Corbyn are Remainers “deep” in their hearts as he warned that Labour MPs wouldn’t sign up to a compromise Brexit deal that could be ripped up by the next Conservative leader, and which doesn’t include a second EU referendum.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference in London, Mr McDonnell appealed to pro-EU voters who have drifted away from Labour, saying: “Deep in my heart I’m still a Remainer.”

Asked if Mr Corbyn was also a Remainer in his heart, the shadow chancellor said: “Yes.”

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The shadow chancellor added: “Our big problem now is, if we are going to march our troops in Parliament to the top of the hill to vote for a deal, and then that’s overturned within weeks, I think that would be a cataclysmic act of bad faith.”

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Mr McDonnell said the issue of a public vote had come up in the talks.

He said: “Because we are in negotiations, we have been saying to our Conservative colleagues that to get something through Parliament you may well have to concede that there is a public vote of some sort.

“We need to test the numbers on that. And at the moment there has not been much of a shift... there are a large number of MPs who will not sign up to anything unless there is a public vote.”

Meanwhile, a former Labour minister quit the party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s record on Brexit and tackling anti-Semitism.

Bridget Prentice, who was MP for Lewisham East from 1992 to 2010, claimed the party had “been destroyed” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

In a strongly-worded attack she said that “in all the major issues of the day, you have called it wrong”.

Ms Prentice, who served as a whip and junior justice minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said “enough is enough” and she was resigning with “deepest sadness and some anger” after 45 years.

In her resignation letter, Ms Prentice said she had “watched in horror as Jewish members have begged for support” and been met with a “slow, reluctant and inadequate” response.

Another Labour stalwart of nearly 50 years quit yesterday, with Sheila Murphy - a former North West regional director and campaign staffer to Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper and Luciana Berger - saying she felt like she had been “in an abusive relationship”.