Labour’s Emily Thornberry issued a dark warning to leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of last year’s general election by claiming he could choose a Brexit position for the party that “people no longer believe,” an expert revealed.
Ms Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, was reported to have said before Labour’s trouncing in the December polls that if he signed the party up to campaign to remain in the EU, the public may not believe he could follow through. She also questioned the length of time it took Mr Corbyn to make a final decision on what exactly Labour stood for in terms of the EU and Brexit. In a newly surfaced ITV column from June 2019, journalist Robert Peston claimed that numerous MPs were left “confused” with Mr Corbyn’s election strategy.
Labour would go on to endure one of its worst nights in the party’s history, gaining its fewest number of seats in a general election since 1935.
In his column, Mr Peston said Ms Thornberry had warned Mr Corbyn that the party’s stance on Brexit could be crucial.
Mr Peston commented that Labour MPs were left baffled as to why Mr Corbyn had “delayed their ability to regain momentum against surging Lib Dems and Greens by delaying for at least a fortnight a decision to adopt a referendum-and-remain position” on Brexit.
Mr Corbyn famously said he would remain neutral on the issue, but give the UK another referendum to decide whether it would be happy in the EU or with a deal his party could have struck with Brussels – should they get into power.
The Lib Dems were defiant in their approach, claiming they would do anything to stop Brexit.
Mr Peston also said one MP claimed Mr Corbyn’s actions on Labour’s Brexit stance was “institutional self-harm of monstrous proportions”.
The ITV journalist added: “As I understand, Thornberry warned Corbyn that – just like his foot-dragging on adopting the IHRA anti-Semitism position – if he does eventually sign Labour up to a campaign for a referendum in all circumstances and to stay in the EU, by that late stage voters would no longer believe he and the party actually mean it.”
Eventually, Mr Corbyn’s party would be decimated in the polls, claiming just over 200 seats.
The Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, collected its biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher won a third stint in office.
Ms Thornberry was among a number of candidates who wanted to replace Mr Corbyn after he said he would stand down following the poll drubbing.
However, Labour supporters were not so keen.
She was forced to drop out of the race after being unable to garner enough support from members.
The winner of the leadership race is expected to be announced in April.
The candidates currently in the running are favourite Sir Keir Starmer, Corbynista Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
It comes as the latest on odds on who could be the next Conservative leader were released.
In many quarters, Mr Johnson has won praise for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and there is no inkling that he would be considering a move away from Downing Street.
But Ladbrokes has revealed exactly who it believes will be next to move into his position when the time comes.
The firm argues that current Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set for a stint as boss of the Conservatives, offering odds of around 8/1.
Next up is Michael Gove (10/1) followed by Dominic Raab (16/1).
Alex Apati, from Ladbrokes, said: “All eyes are on who’ll eventually be replacing Boris and as things stand it’s Rishi Sunak who now heads the betting after leapfrogging Michael Gove last weekend.”