Gordon Brown and John McDonnell put differences aside for Brexit scrap

Written by Sebastian Whale on 16 June 2016 in Diary

The pair appeared in Manchester today nearly 10 years after McDonnell tried to scupper Brown's leadership bid

Former adversaries Gordon Brown and John McDonnell today joined forces as Labour steps up it efforts to persuade its traditional supporters to reject leaving the EU.

The pair claimed that staying in the bloc would leave British households around £1,300-a-year better off - and that quitting could see a return to the "industrial wastelands" of the 1980s.

Their joint appearance in Manchester comes nearly 10 years after McDonnell tried to challenge the then chancellor for the Labour leadership after Tony Blair stood down in 2007.

Brown praised the shadow chancellor as a “campaigner for social justice”, before adding: “I think it’s fair to say John was also shadowing me when I was chancellor.”

In his speech, Brown said: "In the 1980s the Tories turned our industrial heartlands into industrial wastelands.

"Their ideology was that there was no such thing as society and everyone was on their own.

"What stood between our communities and further devastation was the European structural funds, regional funds and social funds that Tory Brexiteers would now cut.”

McDonnell argued Labour would ensure that the UK received its fair share of the EU cash available to pay for major infrastructure projects in member states.

"Thanks to George Osborne’s spending cuts, Britain has enormous infrastructure needs and it is hard-hit industrial regions that can benefit the most from European Investment Bank funding," he said.

"Under Labour’s plans we could secure an additional £35 billion in additional funding, which would mean households would better off to the equivalent of £1,320. This injection of Labour Investment could be a boost to British families struggling to get to the end of each month.

"That is why we want Labour voters to vote next Thursday for Labour Investment in a reformed EU, and reject a Tory Brexit.”

McDonnell, the Hayes and Harlington MP, fell 16 short of the minimum required nominations to run against the Labour heavyweight in 2007, meaning Brown assumed the leadership unopposed.

On launching his leadership bid, McDonnell, who vehemently opposed the Iraq War and was an ardent critic of the new Labour government, called for “a challenge to the present political consensus”.

Referring to their one time rivalry, McDonnell quipped today: “Gordon and I were last on a platform together in 2007, when we were both contesting the Labour party leadership. Some of you may know he won.”



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