Diane Abbott ups the ante as Team Corbyn talk Brexit strategy

Written by David Singleton on 1 November 2018 in Diary

The shadow home secretary is lobbying Jeremy Corbyn not to support the PM's Brexit deal

A no-deal Brexit would mean Britain’s economy suffering rising unemployment and falling household incomes that would trigger a recession, according to analysis by the global rating agency Standard & Poor’s this week.

Should Labour swing behind Theresa May to prevent that from happening?

For some Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats, such as Caroline Flint, the answer is yes. She told Sky News this week: “The question I think for some of my Labour colleagues is why wouldn’t you support a deal? Why would you stand along Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees Mogg who wants us to crash out without a deal and that’s the choice behind us.”

Many Labour MPs who are worried about Brexit take a very different view. Meanwhile, according to another must-read piece by the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush, Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle are divided on the question. 

At a recent strategy meeting, the leader's senior adviser Andrew Murray (who also works part-time as Len McCluskey’s chief of staff) is said to have taken a similar line to Flint. According to Bush, he argued that the Labour should vote for May’s deal to avoid a no-deal exit.

Putting forward the opposing view was Diane Abbott, whose Hackney North seat voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Apparently, she argued that “the party’s pro-European membership would never forgive them for bailing out a weak Tory government and that May’s Brexit agreement would in any case be a disaster that Labour should not be seen to endorse”. 

And then she raised the stakes.

“She warned her old friend Corbyn that their pro-Remain constituents in the north-east of London would be ‘protesting outside your house’ if Labour voted for May’s deal.”

It’s not yet clear which side the Eurosceptic Corbyn will end up backing, but one insider reckoned that Abbott had touched a nerve with her argument at the high-level strategy meeting.

 “That last point really spooked him,” one of the attending staffers said.




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