Jeremy Corbyn made ‘allotment pact’ to back Remain but was overruled by top adviser, new documentary claims

Labour leader’s director of strategy reported to have sabotaged agreement with John McDonnell and Diane Abbott 

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 04 November 2019 10:44
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Corbyn launches general election campaign: 'Labour will get Brexit sorted within six months'

Jeremy Corbyn made an “allotment pact” with his top ministers to agree that Labour would back Remain, but was overruled by his most senior adviser, according to claims in a new documentary.

The Labour leader reportedly met with allies John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, at his north London allotment during the summer and agreed that the party should move to a position opposing Brexit.

However, the plot was scuppered by Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications, according to a Channel 4 Dispatches programme to be aired on Monday night.

Labour said it did not recognise the reports. A spokesperson said: “Labour denies these claims, as the programme makes clear.”

According to Dispatches, the meeting took place after Mr McDonnell and Ms Abbott asked Mr Corbyn for a “serious chat” about Brexit away from Westminster.

The meeting at the allotment reportedly ended with the three agreeing that Labour would “unequivocally” back Remain and that Mr Corbyn would write a newspaper article announcing the change.

Dispatches claimed that the article had been written and ready to publish but that, at the last minute, Mr Milne persuaded Mr Corbyn to ditch the plan.

The party’s Brexit position has been at the centre of a long-running row between senior members of the shadow cabinet and Mr Corbyn’s closest advisers, including Mr Milne and the Labour leader’s former chief of staff, Karie Murphy, who is now overseeing the party’s election campaign.

Mr Corbyn’s senior aides are widely reported to have urged him not to agree to many MPs’ and members’ demands for the party to fully oppose Brexit.

The latest revelation came as Mr Corbyn urged his top team to unite behind the party’s current position, which is that a Labour government would seek to renegotiate the Brexit deal within six months and then put it to the people in a referendum, with Remain as the other option.

The Labour leader said he had told his divided shadow cabinet that the “debate is now over”.

He told The Guardian: “I just said, ‘Look, this debate is now over. We’ve done it, the party has now made its decision, and that’s it, and that’s what we’re going to campaign on.”

Mr Corbyn also claimed he had unilaterally decided that Labour would support Boris Johnson’s demands for a general election, despite reports of heavy opposition from other senior Labour figures, including chief whip Nick Brown.

He said: “I put it to them quite clearly. I said, ‘Our objections are now gone. We are now supporting a general election.’ I didn’t alert anybody in advance – it was my decision, on my own. I made that decision. And they gulped and said, ‘Yes Jeremy’.”

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