John McDonnell makes impassioned direct-to-camera plea to Labour members: 'We've got to stop this now'

Close ally of Jeremy Corbyn denies accusations of 'illegal entry' made by MP Seema Malhotra yet apologises

Peter Yeung
Sunday 24 July 2016 12:22
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John McDonnell pleas for Labour unity

John McDonnell has made an emotional direct-to-camera plea to Labour members over concerns the party is willing to “destroy” itself in a leadership battle.

Amid “extremely serious” accusations by former shadow cabinet minister Seema Malhotra that Jeremy Corbyn’s aides had broken into her offices, in a major breach of security and parliamentary privilege, Mr McDonnell made the extraordinary outburst.

Asking which camera is live on The Andrew Marr Show, the Labour leader’s close ally then made a lengthy speech saying "we've got to stop this now".

He said: “We’ve got to stop this. Am I on this camera? Let me just say this to Labour Party supporters, Labour members, members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“We’ve got to stop this now. There’s a small group out there that are willing to destroy our party just to remove Jeremy Corbyn.

“We’ve got to stop them, we’ve got to unite. And if you want to come for me and Jeremy Corbyn, well then that’s up to you.

“I want Owen and Jeremy and everyone to say: ‘Let’s stop this now’.”

John McDonnell denounced the "unacceptable" and "distressing" accusation of office break-in by a Jeremy Corbyn staffer, explaining his completely differing taken on events, but still apologised.

“Seema resigned unfortunately a month ago, a month later we thought she’d moved out of her office.

“My office manager, who manages the who Treasury team accommodation and staffing and has a key to all our rooms, went along, saw boxes outside of her office, thought she’d moved out, knocked on her door, never heard anything and went in.

“Then went back the next morning, did the same thing, members of Seema’s staff were there, she apologised, and that was it.

“I didn’t even know from Seema, she didn’t contact me before she wrote to the Speaker.”

Mr McDonnell said he had “no idea” why the claims were made, saying Ms Seema’s staff had invited the office manager for meal and drinks last week, apparently contradicting their unhappiness.

Jeremy Corbyn publicly launched his campaign to remain leader of the Labour Party this week as his rival in the race said he was “genuinely afraid” of a split in the party following weeks of bitter recriminations on all sides.

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