Corbyn should widen appeal across Labour's broad spectrum - Mandelson


Labour grandee Lord Mandelson has urged Jeremy Corbyn to reach out to centrist voters if he wants to win a strong overall majority at the next general election.

The former cabinet minister - a long-time critic of the Labour leader - acknowledged that the prospects for the party were now "very strong" following its gains in the June poll.

He said Mr Corbyn now faced a choice as to whether he wanted to consolidate his "sectarian" support on the left or widen his appeal to voters.

Lord Mandelson
Lord Mandelson is a long-time critic of the Labour leader (Jonathan Brady/PA)

"The Tories are giving him and the Labour Party victory on a plate at the next election, it seems to me. What sort of victory he gets depends on him and what he does now," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think he has a choice. In the party, he can go for total ideological control of Labour, or he can opt instead for unity right across Labour's broad spectrum.

"In the country, he can either consolidate his sectarian support on the left and amongst the young voters, or he can additionally embrace more centrist and older voters.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn has been urged to reach out to centrist voters (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

"This is what will make the difference between a slender victory for the Labour Party or a substantial working majority."

Lord Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner, backed Labour's position on Brexit and warned that it would be a "national humiliation" if the Government failed to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU.

"It would wipe out all the rights to trade we currently have in the European Union. It would wipe out all the preferential access that our goods and services currently enjoy," he said.

"It would be an economic disaster for Britain. It would be a national humiliation."

He said the public mood on Brexit appeared to be shifting and that he would back an amendment in the House of Lords requiring any final deal with the EU to be approved by Act of Parliament, although he stopped short of calling for a second referendum.

Is Peter Mandelson backing a 2nd EU Referendum? "I'm not going that far this morning". Not those words - "this morning"@BBCr4today

-- Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) October 20, 2017

"As the evidence mounts, I think we should rethink our approach to leaving the European Union and how we implement the referendum decision. If the public chooses to take a different view we should listen to them," he said.

"I am certainly going to back any amendment that says Parliament should have the final say. I don't mean some cursory vote. I mean an Act of Parliament that gives Parliament the power to sign off on any final deal."