John McDonnell: Jeremy Corbyn's position is untenable if he loses next election

PUBLISHED: 14:24 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 11 October 2019

John McDonnell said that Corbyn would have to resign if he loses the next election. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

John McDonnell said that Corbyn would have to resign if he loses the next election. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

2017 Getty Images

John McDonnell has said that he "can't see" how Corbyn could hang on in the event of Labour losing the next general election.

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In a wide-ranging interview by Alastair Campbell for GQ, the shadow chancellor has said that he "can't see" how it would be possible for the Labour leader to stay on if the party lost in the next election.

McDonnell, who insisted Labour will win, said hypothetically that the party would follow tradition, "which is to have an election for a new leader".

Ruling himself out for the position, he added that he believes the next Labour leader should be a woman, naming Angela Rayner as one possibility.

"I'm still of the view now that whoever comes after Jeremy has got to be a woman," he said. "We've got to have a woman leader. If you look at the new youngsters that have come through, they are fantastic."

McDonnell also said that the current talks with other opposition parties are only for the specific purposes of blocking a no-deal Brexit - and there would be no electoral pacts.

"We want to be absolutely clear to the people what we are about," he said. "No backroom deals whatsoever and we're not going to be held back by any other political parties.

He went on: "The only reason we're all sitting around the table at the moment is because we want to block no deal.

"We'll see what comes out of it, but it has a specific purpose here. It is not going into an election on a platform, or anything like that, with them."

Campbell - who is also The New European's editor-at-large - asked him why Corbyn had to be "dragged kicking and screaming and is still not really there" on a People's Vote.

"He hasn't. You're wrong on this Alastair," said McDonnell, saying the party had to go through a "sequence" of attempting to secure a good Brexit deal before deciding that the only route left is a second referendum.

"We're at that stage now where we've exhausted every other route we possibly can and so it's back to the people," he said.

But, he said he'd rather have an election first.

After prompting, McDonnell denied that Corbyn had anything to do with the "fiasco" of a challenge to Tom Watson's position at the Labour party conference.

MORE: Momentum aim to oust Tom Watson for 'disloyalty' following anti-Brexit speeches

"Things happened that Jeremy wasn't aware of and when he became aware he intervened," he said. "But he intervened by providing his view to the NEC and they adopted it."

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He also said that there is far less tension between Watson and Corbyn than is generally assumed.

"Tom is Tom, he'll make statements on all sorts of things and you'll wake up in the morning and think, 'Oh, blimey, what has he done now?'," he said. "That's all part of it really, part of the joys of life."

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