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15 September 2016

John McDonnell is “furious“ about list naming “abusive“ MPs

The shadow Chancellor said the list was not attended to attack anyone. 

By Julia Rampen

John McDonnell has declared he is “furious” at the release of a list of MPs that have been “abusive” to or about Jeremy Corbyn.

The document, which was seen by journalists, named 13 MPs including Jess Phillips, Tristram Hunt, Frank Field and Tom Watson. 

The shadow Chancellor, Corbyn’s old friend and closest ally, said at an economics briefing: “I was furious about it to be frank, absolutely furious. [It was] just at a time when we were rebuilding relationships over the summer.”

He said it was a briefing note compiled by a junior researcher:  “That release came from the campaign – it didn’t come from Jeremy.

“It certainly wasn’t a list to attack anyone. It was a factual report.

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“What we are trying to do at the moment is just work with everybody. Whatever happens in the leadership election next week, we all have to come together.”

The list has sparked fury among Corbyn’s Labour MP critics. Neil Coyle, one of those named, declared he would be “talking to a lawyer”.

In a debate on Wednesday night, Corbyn appeared to defend the list, which he described as recording “statements made by colleagues on the record”. 

But on Thursday, sitting next to McDonnell, he said: “I never, never abuse anybody.

“I don’t respond to unkind remarks sometimes thrown in my direction, because I believe politics is more important than that.”

He said he was “providing olive branches” and had received similar conciliatory overtures. 

McDonnell also dismissed a video in which he says he has been “waiting” for the financial crisis as a joke.

He said of the remarks, published in The Telegraph: “If you listen to the tape, people fell about laughing as a result.”

McDonnell and Corbyn laid out their plans for the economy, including investment in high-speed broadband for every part of the country and an option for workers to take over failing companies.

Regarding the EU negotiations, Corbyn said he would push for worker and consumer rights to be transferred into UK law, and a close relationship with Europe.

But he demanded a change to rules on state aid, which currently restrict a government’s ability to protect an industry or company from wider market forces.

Corbyn said other EU countries were willing to use state aid to protect their steel industries from cheap Chinese prices, but the UK stalled.

He said: “What we are looking for is really the same flexibilities that other countries have exercised, across the EU as well.”