Hilary Benn urges critics of Jeremy Corbyn to fight within the party to help shape policy

Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary said Mr Corbyn’s promise to open up policy making must be seized on

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Blairite critics of Jeremy Corbyn will be warned not to “sit in their tents” and “wait for something to change” but fight within the party to formulate Labour’s policies.

In a warning to the right, Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary, said Mr Corbyn’s promise to open up policy making must be seized on by all MPs as a chance to influence the party’s future direction.

And he called for the new Labour leader to be open and accepting of differing views and not to revert to “command-and-control” structures that have characterised the party’s recent past.

Mr Benn’s remarks, in an interview with The Independent, reflect fears that leading figures on the right, such as Chuka Umunna and Rachel Reeves, have decided to “sit out” Mr Corbyn’s leadership and wait for the party to move back in their direction.

 

This, they worry, will allow the debate over the future of the party to be dominated by the left, and move Labour away from mainstream public opinion.

“It is really important that people say what they think and what they believe in,” Mr Benn said. “I think we all have to be true unto ourselves – all of us. We should relish the prospect of debate.”

He added: “We don’t want people to say ‘I’ve got a slightly different view so I am going to sit in my tent and wait for something to change.’”

Mr Benn’s remarks come after a series of senior figures, including the shadow Justice Secretary Lord Falconer, have highlighted significant areas of policy where they disagree with the leader.

Mr Benn said it was not credible to expect all parts of the Labour Party to come together immediately around Mr Corbyn’s campaign pledges when the contest highlighted very real areas of disagreement on policy.

“The idea that someone would be elected and then everybody else would immediately say the opposite of what they said before is not credible,” he said. “You have to be true unto yourself and your beliefs and expect other people to be true unto themselves. I think that is really important.”

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