Now Corbyn wants to flip-flop over Brexit yet AGAIN: Labour leader panicked into rethinking strategy after Boris’s surge in opinion polls
- Jeremy Corbyn has been ‘spooked’ by Boris Johnson’s bounce in the polls
- Insiders believe he may backtrack on his newfound pro-Remain rhetoric
- Double U-turn will outrage pro-EU Labour moderates such as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry
Jeremy Corbyn is so spooked by Boris Johnson’s bounce in the polls that he may backtrack on his newfound pro-Remain rhetoric, party insiders claimed last night.
They said Mr Johnson’s surge in the opinion polls, revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week, was panicking the Labour leader into rethinking his shift against Brexit – barely a month after he said that his party would campaign for Remain in a second referendum on a Tory Brexit.
The so-called ‘U-turn on a U-turn’ will outrage pro-EU Labour moderates such as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who have been pushing suspected Brexit sympathiser Mr Corbyn to declare Labour a Remain party.
But the move would be cheered by many Northern Labour MPs, including party chairman Ian Lavery. They have privately warned that not honouring the 2016 referendum Leave verdict could cost the party a string of Brexit-backing constituencies across the Midlands and the North.
Jeremy Corbyn is so spooked by Boris Johnson’s bounce in the polls that he may backtrack on his newfound pro-Remain rhetoric, party insiders claimed last night. In a further sign of Labour disarray, Mr Corbyn’s inner circle is now said to split over who to anoint as his successor – previous favourite Rebecca Long-Bailey or Left-wing ‘rising star’ Laura Pidcock, who famously said she would never be friends with a Tory
One senior frontbencher said last night: ‘The leadership is panicking at Boris’s impact and rightly so. We’ve gone way too far over to appease London-based Remainers and it’ll cost us in the North at a General Election.’
The threat of Mr Johnson calling a snap autumn Election is also forcing Labour’s high command to consider fast-tracking so-called ‘deselection ballots’ of backbench MPs critical of Mr Corbyn – despite fears the rows would overshadow the party’s annual conference in Brighton next month.
They said Mr Johnson’s surge in the opinion polls, revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week, was panicking the Labour leader into rethinking his shift against Brexit
The process had been scheduled for October but Mr Corbyn’s advisers fear a sudden Election would leave the 70-year-old party leader no choice but to let backbenchers hostile to him – including Hove’s Peter Kyle – stand for re-election unchallenged by local pro-Corbyn activists.
In a further sign of Labour disarray, Mr Corbyn’s inner circle is now said to split over who to anoint as his successor – previous favourite Rebecca Long-Bailey or Left-wing ‘rising star’ Laura Pidcock, who famously said she would never be friends with a Tory.
Sources said Shadow Business Secretary Ms Long-Bailey would still be given a starring role at the Labour conference but claimed the leader’s advisers feared she was too closely allied to powerful Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to ensure Mr Corbyn’s legacy.
Last month, Mr Corbyn bowed to mounting pressure from pro-EU colleagues and confirmed that Labour would push for any Tory Brexit deal to be put to a second referendum, promising the party would campaign for Remain. The move came despite dire warnings that it would cost the party seats in Labour-held Northern constituencies such as Wigan and Doncaster, which voted heavily to leave.
And those fears have only deepened since an exclusive Mail on Sunday poll last weekend that showed a ten-point poll surge for the Tories under Mr Johnson who has vowed to achieve Brexit ‘no ifs, not buts’ by October 31. The survey put the Tories five points ahead of Labour.
But it also revealed that with any leader other than Mr Corbyn, Labour would have a poll lead. Labour is worried that despite the Tories losing the Brecon by-election to the openly anti-Brexit Lib Dems last week, Mr Johnson’s party pushed Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party into a distant third place, with Labour a dismal fourth.
A YouGov poll for the Times found the Tories had gained seven percentage points in support over the past week – and were 10 points ahead of Labour
Party insiders say the developments have shaken Mr Corbyn and chief aide Seumas Milne into thinking they should revert to the much-criticised, old policy of ‘constructive ambiguity’ to appeal to both Brexit-backing Labour voters in the North and Remain supporters in London and the South East.
One said: ‘They think they’ve just gone too far to appease the Southern-based Remainers in the party while we can’t compete with the Lib Dems as an avowedly anti-Brexit party. Corbyn can’t exactly reverse the pledge to back a second referendum if we’re still in opposition but he could send a much more Brexit-friendly message of how Labour in government would honour the 2016 referendum result by making sure we left.’
But Labour moderates such as Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer and Ms Thornberry – both North London MPs – will be outraged by any move away from a pro-Remain stance. Only last week, Ms Thornberry said her party would be ‘off our bloody rockers’ not to back remaining in the EU.
She said Labour should campaign for that result in a referendum on Brexit with or without a deal.
Labour denied last night there was any panic over Mr Johnson’s early impact, pointing to an opinion poll yesterday that put Labour in the lead. Sources also denied there was any rethink under way on the party’s Brexit policy.
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