McDonnell warns Labour risks having no clear Brexit policy for snap general election

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell appears on BBC's Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: BBC.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell appears on BBC's Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell appeared on Sunday morning television to deny that Labour's shadow cabinet were at 'civil war' - but warned Jeremy Corbyn needed to act quick on Brexit policy.

McDonnell told Andrew Marr on the BBC that Labour had to decide on its Brexit policy "sooner rather than later" because of the possibility that the new prime minister could call a snap election.

While he believed that Jeremy Corbyn consulting trade unions and the shadow cabinet was the right route to take, he feared that leaving it until the autumn could put Labour in a vulnerable position.

He said that he would "vote Remain" and "campaign for Remain" and that the party needs to reflect that.

"If Boris does call an election in September, we won't even have a conference to decide these matters, that's why we need to decide early and get on with it. That's why [Corbyn] is talking to people now and trying to bring them together."

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He also denied Sunday Times reports that there was a rift at the top of the party and said he had not called for Jeremy Corbyn's closest aides to be sacked.

The newspaper said that both McDonnell and Diane Abbott called for gatekeeper Karie Murphy and communications and strategy chief Seumas Milne to go.

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But McDonnell said the reports were "myths" and "rubbish".

He told the BBC: "I have confidence in them, of course I do. I have not told anyone to be sacked or anything like that, this is all myth.

"But let's make it clear, Jeremy and I talk about policies on a daily basis. Yes, we will disagree on things but we will then come to an agreement."

He blamed the stories on journalists attending summer receptions and "drinking some of the most nauseating wine ever produced from a grape".

Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner told Sky News: "The idea that they put forward that there's a civil war in the Labour Party - let's look at the real divide in this country.

"The real divide in this country is not within the Labour Party, the real divide in this country is between what the Conservatives are trying to do with our country and the rest."

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