McDonnell says voters have told Labour to 'sort Brexit'
PUBLISHED: 08:51 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:15 03 May 2019
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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has been criticised for appearing to interpret the message from the local elections as a sign that Labour needs to push ahead with Brexit.
The Labour frontbencher has angered Remainers within the Labour Party, and across the anti-Brexit movement, for his tweet on social media which said voters wanted his party to “sort Brexit”.
The election results so far saw both the Tories and Labour kicked at the ballot box, and saw the anti-Brexit party Liberal Democrats surge in the polls.
It had been considered by many a vote against Brexit, in the same way the 2017 general election backed a Labour Party which appeared the best option to halt the UK's departure from the EU.
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But McDonnell took a different view.
He posted: “We'll see what final results of local elections look like by end of day as they are pretty mixed geographically up to now but so far message from local elections- “Brexit - sort it.” Message received.”
Nicola Sturgeon said: “If the message Labour takes from English local elections is that they should now be the facilitator of a Tory Brexit, I suspect their troubles will just be beginning.”
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One Twitter user responded: “The message is pretty clear 'Brexit - bin it' If you don't, Labour are history.”
Another joked: “Can I have some of the drugs you are talking?”
McDonnell later clarified his tweet, telling Robert Peston that he did not mean he was supporting Brexit.
He said: “Blimey, here we go. @Peston don't misinterpret my last tweet. I was simply making the point we need to get on with sorting this out whichever way.”
Interim CEO of Best for Britain Naomi Smith said: “Results so far indicate that these local elections mirror the substantial shift in public opinion we've been seeing against Brexit and for the public having the final say.
“Our research shows that across the UK people have changed their minds, with 61% of constituencies in England now backing staying in the EU rather than leaving.
“People are tired of the Brexit mess, and tired of politicians telling them they can't have any further role in this massive decision for the country. That won't wash anymore, and, as these results show, the public will clearly punish politicians who continue to prevent their voice being heard.”
• This story was updated to include John McDonnell's follow up tweet.