Jeremy Corbyn’s people ‘don’t give a toss’ about Labour members, claims former party deputy leader

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer and Labour Leader Jeremy Corby

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: PA Wire. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Dame Margaret Beckett says Jeremy Corbyn is not the stumbling block on the party's position on Brexit - it's the people around him.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, the former deputy leader of the MP said that his people "don't give a toss" about what Labour members think on Brexit, and that they are the ones stopping him from making progress on the issue.

She said that he wants to keep the party united, but the outspoken opponents of a change in policy were opposing policy changes.

"I don't get the impression that it is Jeremy himself who is the stumbling block," the veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret told Today.

"I think there are people very close to him, with great influence with him, who are and have been from the beginning passionately opposed...

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"He wants to keep the party together as much as possible and present a united front on the issue."

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The Labour MP said: "I'm beginning to think that some of them do actually want Britain to leave the EU no matter what.

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"They don't give a toss about what the British people now want or what Labour members think is in the country's interests.

"They just are determined to make sure we don't do anything to impede Britain leaving, if necessary with no deal."

However Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman denied the Labour leader is in hock to unions over Brexit, saying the claims were "laughable".

He denied Corbyn was "under the influence" of Unite boss Len McCluskey - although he admitted "of course trade unions are an important part of the Labour Party".

When asked directly if he was the problem, the spokesman also denied this, saying "there are many people around Jeremy Corbyn".

He said: "I think we're all familiar with the trope of good kings and their bad advisers.

"The idea that Jeremy doesn't make his own decisions or decide what he wants to do is laughable.

"Jeremy has his own views and takes his own decisions and decisions are not taken for him by anybody."

The spokesman insisted Corbyn was working to "find a common position" and said he expected this to reach a conclusion "in the next few weeks", indicating this would be before recess.

He added: "That's his way of leading, it is to try and bring people with him and find common ground and that's what he is doing here."

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