John McDonnell says he will not remain neutral in any second EU referendum
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he will not remain neutral in any second EU referendum.
Mr McDonnell said individual members of the party and the shadow cabinet will be able to campaign on the basis of their judgment.
Labour, he said, would “negotiate a sensible deal, put that back to the British people alongside Remain and people will have to make a judgment around that deal as against Remain”.
Asked whether he would stay neutral, he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “No, I won’t and I don’t think Jeremy’s asking people to do that.
“I’ll wait until I see the details of the deal that we negotiate.
“I’ve said up until now – I was in the negotiations with the Conservatives for six weeks and I couldn’t see a deal even emerging then that could beat Remain, but let’s see what we can negotiate.”
It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended his decision to remain “neutral” in any new EU poll, saying it is a sign of “strength and maturity”.
Mr Corbyn came under fire after disclosing he would not take sides in the proposed public vote on a new Brexit deal which the party intends to negotiate with Brussels.
Mr McDonnell said he would not expect an independence referendum in Scotland in “the first two or three years” of a Labour government.
“We’ve got to address the priorities, the real issues facing our community.”
Asked if he would put money on Labour winning the election, he said: “I’ve given up on gambling.
“It was one of my new year resolutions.
“But we’re going to win.”
Mr McDonnell said: “Whatever we do, we’ve got to arrive at a situation where the jobs and the economy are protected and on that basis Jeremy’s role, as he says, will be the honest broker, whatever is then decided will then be implemented by our Labour government.”
Asked if a future Labour government would take a position on the deal it would negotiate with Brussels or not, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Well, that’s a hypothetical.”
Ms Rayner said her party will negotiate a deal that puts jobs and environment protections first and which will deal with the Northern Ireland border.
“Within six months we’ll put that back to the people and the people will decide, and then we’ll move on,” she said.
Ms Rayner said: “I think some of the problems that we have at the moment is the framing of this is that everybody’s Remain, and that’s just not true.
“Actually the country did vote to leave the European Union, and we’ve said we respected that, so we’re not going to be like the Lib Dems and just ignore that.
“We will negotiate a deal and we’ll put that back to the people, and they will have the ultimate say, and then we’ll move on.”
Mr McDonnell said Labour’s proposals to help the so-called “Waspi women” were designed to “redress this injustice”.
He said: “This is a historic injustice, we have to redress it.
“Some of these women have been forced into penury and they were given no adequate notice, they were not properly informed and it’s caused real hardship and some of these women, if we don’t do it now, some of them will no longer be with us.
“I think we have a sense of responsibility to redress this injustice.”
Mr McDonnell said Labour had been working on the proposals for the last 18 months.
Asked why the policy which could amount to £58 billion over five years was not costed in the manifesto, he told Sky News: “This is the scorecard of our manifesto implementation…it’s outside of the scorecard.
“This is a very special arrangement, a contingency in the same way Government has in the past dealt with matters like this.
“The scale of this injustice is enormous.”
Ms Rayner said the government has “failed the women who were born in the 1950s”, telling the BBC: “They stole their pension, that contract, that agreement that they thought they had, and then accelerated it so those women didn’t have the chance to prepare for that.
“We’ve said we will right that injustice.
“And within the five years of the Labour government we will compensate them for the money that they’ve lost.
“This is their money that they’ve had stolen off them.
“It’s completely unacceptable.”
She said “millions of women have been plunged into poverty”, adding: “It fundamentally undermines the contract between the state and its people.”