John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has said that the leadership of the Labour Party has “held the party together” over Brexit as he addressed the reports regarding an impending split.
The number two of Jeremy Corbyn said that it would be “ridiculous” for the party to be divided over Brexit. He said that there was “no need to split.”
However, some of the MPs, including Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, and Chris Leslie, the former shadow chancellor, have not denied that they are considering an imminent breakaway from the Labour Party. Reportedly, they are in talks with some Tory MPs to establish a new centrist party in the wake of the dissatisfaction over Brexit.
During an interview with the BBC regarding the apparent impending split, McDonnell stated: “I don’t see why there’s a need to. On all the issues that people have raised that has the potential for a split, we’re dealing with. We’re holding the party together on Brexit, those who are saying they’ll split if we don’t have a peoples’ vote – well we’ve still kept that option on the table. Why split over that, it’s ridiculous.”
The Shadow Chancellor said that if the Labour Party was to split it, it would “be like the 1980s” where the party lost some seats to the Conservatives and allowed Margaret Thatcher into Number 10. He said that those who were rumoured to be on the cusp of leaving were “Labour through and through” and “wouldn’t want this.”
The Labour party has seen itself divided on Brexit, and especially over the issue of whether to urge for a second referendum or People’s Vote. Corbyn is lukewarm to the idea of a second Brexit referendum and the leadership’s stance has been that may only be called in the event that the party is not able to secure a general election.
McDonnell said that he was not “giving up” on a general election. However, he admitted that “we’re at the end of the line” and the option of going back to the public “had to be there.”