Jeremy Corbyn spokesman denies Labour leader is in hock to unions over Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has denied the Labour leader is in hock to unions over Brexit.

Claims by Labour MP Dame Margaret Beckett that unions and Mr Corbyn’s aides are preventing the party shifting to support Remain were dismissed as “laughable” by his spokesman.

Veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret told the BBC Today programme that people around Mr Corbyn “don’t give a toss” what Labour members think about Brexit and would be happy to leave with no deal.

Labour party annual conference 2015
Dame Margaret Beckett (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She said: “I’m beginning to think that some of them do actually want Britain to leave the EU no matter what.

“They don’t give a toss about what the British people now want or what Labour members think is in the country’s interests.

“They just are determined to make sure we don’t do anything to impede Britain leaving, if necessary with no deal.”

When asked who she was referring to, Dame Margaret said “the leader’s office is the usual shorthand” and added she did not believe Mr Corbyn was “the stumbling block”.

She added: “I think there are people very close to him, with great influence with him, who are and have been from the beginning passionately opposed.”

But her claims were rubbished by Labour’s spokesman, who denied Mr Corbyn was “under the influence” of Unite boss Len McCluskey – although he admitted “of course trade unions are an important part of the Labour Party”.

TUC Congress 2018
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey (Danny Lawson/PA)

When asked directly if he was the problem, the spokesman also denied this, saying “there are many people around Jeremy Corbyn”.

He said: “I think we’re all familiar with the trope of good kings and their bad advisers.

“The idea that Jeremy doesn’t make his own decisions or decide what he wants to do is laughable.

“Jeremy has his own views and takes his own decisions and decisions are not taken for him by anybody.”

The spokesman insisted Mr Corbyn was working to “find a common position” and said he expected this to reach a conclusion “in the next few weeks”, indicating this would be before recess.

He added: “That’s his way of leading, it is to try and bring people with him and find common ground and that’s what he is doing here.”

When asked by the Press Association if there could also be a no-confidence vote triggering a general election before recess, he added: “We’ve always said we will mount a no-confidence vote challenge at the time we judge it to have the greatest chance of success.”

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