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Wolves of Westminster

UK Political News and Opinion

Corbyn and McDonnell to stand down if Labour loses GE, Brexit talks enter “tunnel”

3 min read
11 October 2019 | UK NEWS

The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has said in an interview with Alastair Campbell (formerly of the Labour Party) published today that he imagines both he and party leader Jeremy Corbyn will stand down from their roles in the event that the Labour Party does not win the next General Election.

In response to Mr Campbell’s question as to how either of the two men could continue in their positions if Labour did not come to power – given that neither stood down after its election defeat in 2017, as is customary – Mr McDonnell said: “I can’t see… I think it is the same for my own personal position, I can’t see so.” He added: “What we’d do is as the tradition, which is have an election for a new leader.”

The Shadow Chancellor repeated a view he has expressed before that the next Leader of the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn should be a woman, saying: “We’ve got to have a woman leader. If you look at the new youngsters that have come through, they are fantastic. There is a whole range of women. Angela Rayner… there is a whole range of women and it’s fantastic.”

Mr McDonnell also emphasised that it was possible for Labour to win a majority in any upcoming election, but he added that: “If we go into a minority government situation, there will be no deals, we’ll just lay out our programme and they either support it or they don’t.

If they don’t support it we’ll go back to the country and it will be interesting, if they did, to see how they argue against a real living wage, investment in public services, restoration of trade union rights, tackling climate change. How can they argue against that?”

Elsewhere on the UK political scene, it is understood in Westminster that the Brexit negotiations surrounding the Prime Minister’s proposed new Withdrawal Agreement have now entered the phase known as “the tunnel”, following a meeting between Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels today, which was described as “constructive”.

This is a term used in EU circles to describe the final phase of negotiations they conduct, whereby the negotiating teams on both sides are significantly narrowed to minimise the risk of leaks, and will hold highly detailed and technical discussions in order to thrash out a final text for both political and legal sign-off. Mr Barnier later tweeted that the EU was now “intensifying” technical talks with the UK around a potential deal.

Following a meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday, Mr Johnson would not discuss any concessions made by either side, but did say that it was not yet a “done deal”, although both he and his counterpart had emerged believing there was a “pathway to a possible deal”. The Prime Minister added: “There’s a way to go. It’s important now that our negotiators on both sides get into proper talks about how to sort this thing out.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster, speaking on behalf of her party, said: “We have held steadfast to that position whilst recognising the need to be flexible and look at Northern Ireland-specific solutions achieved with the support and consent of the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland.

“In order to secure a sensible deal for everyone it is important that the European Union understand that to maximise the prospects of agreement there will need to be a clear acceptance that the economic and constitutional integrity of the whole of the United Kingdom will have to be respected as we leave.

“As a consequence of the mandate given to us by voters in 2017, the DUP is very relevant in the Parliamentary arithmetic and, regardless of the ups and downs of the Brexit discussions, that has not changed. We will judge any outcome reached by the Prime Minister against the criteria above.”

The objective of these talks will be to present a final deal to be signed off at EU level during its next leaders’ summit, which begins next Thursday. With less than a week to go, we will bring you further updates as events progress.

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