Jeremy Corbyn is to miss a national Labour campaign day persuading voters to back Britain’s membership of the EU and instead attend a rally against nuclear weapons in London.
Mr Corbyn is to speak at the CND-organised event alongside the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.
His decision to prioritise the CND rally over the Labour In event has been condemned by several of his backbench critics who suggested it casts doubt over his commitment to the remain campaign.
“His choice ... is symbolic of his obsession with changing our policy on Trident over our ability to make a coherent case on the most important issue facing the country for a generation,” the Labour MP John Woodcock told The Independent. “Every weekend we spend in discussion over an issue we can do nothing about is a weekend we are not reaching out to Labour supporters on the referendum.
“It will make many in the party worried that he has not been entirely straight with Labour members that he has dropped his long-standing opposition to the EU.”
Mr Corbyn’s aides insisted he would find the time “in due course” to take part in pro-EU Labour campaign events and insisted most of his day tomorrow would be spent at Labour’s Yorkshire and Humberside regional conference.
But in an article, the former shadow cabinet minister Michael Dugher, who was sacked by Mr Corbyn earlier this year, said it was “barmy” for the Labour leader to march and share a platform with the party’s opponents on the left.
“I’ve nothing against old friends getting together at the weekend for a nice walk,” he said. “But for Jeremy to share a platform with many of Labour’s political opponents ... and denounce what is still Labour Party policy is quite frankly barmy.
“We could – and should – be spending this weekend attacking the Tories [who] are tearing each other apart on Europe ... it is an act of political sadomasochism to find an issue that the public aren’t talking about and then to put it firmly on the agenda in a way that can only damage your own party.”