Support 100 years of independent journalism.

John McDonnell: Labour will form a minority government

The shadow chancellor told BBC News that his party will seek to govern without coalition deals.

By Caroline Crampton

John McDonnell has told the BBC that Labour will seek to form a minority government.

Speaking to Andrew Neil, Labour’s shadow chancellor said: “The problem that we’ve got is that . . . the Conservative Party, particularly under Theresa May, is an unstable coalition in itself, will fall apart. We’ve already seen this morning, Tory MPs calling on Theresa May to go, saying her position is untenable, and Boris Johnson and David Davis on manoeuvres, looking for alternative leadership, so I don’t think they can form a stable government.

“Therefore, although [Labour] don’t have a majority, which I deeply regret, forming a minority government is the best opportunity of a government that will be stable in the interests of the country.”

This minority Labour government would work vote by vote, putting individual policies before parliament, rather than seeking an overarching coalition deal with any other party, he explained.

“We’re not looking for a coalition or deals, we will set out our policy programme based on an alternative Queen’s Speech and we’ll expect people to vote for it,” McDonnell said.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

On the specific suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn might do a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, McDonnell added: “No deals, no coalitions, we put forward our policies. If the SNP want to vote for some of them, that’s up to them.”

He said that with its better-than-expected election result, Labour had “laid the foundations now for the potential for minority government and then eventually a majority government”.

In response to the suggestion that a minority Labour government would be just as unstable as anything Theresa May could command, McDonnell said that the policies his party would put forward would be very hard for other MPs to vote against.

“We’d be able to shape our policy programme based on our manifesto, on a set of popular policies which large numbers of MPs would support, or certainly wouldn’t want to be seen to be voting against.”

He cited scrapping tuition fees as one example of such a policy.

“I believe with sufficient political skill, a minority government can be a stable government, it would be a better government as well, because it would be based on policies that were popular in parliament and in the country as well.”

As to what happens next, McDonnell said that the pressure was now on Theresa May to realise that the country had rejected both Conservative government and her personal leadership.

“I hope she realises today very quickly that she cannot continue. The Conservative party needs to realise that it cannot re-enter government in the way that it is at the moment in its unstable, divided form. We’ll be the only alternative.”