The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has hit back at Tony Blair’s criticism of Labour’s Brexit policy, accusing him of being out of touch with ordinary people.
The Labour leadership has dismissed a call by Blair to leave open the option of Britain remaining a member of a reformed European Union.
The former prime minister said in an article that the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president had opened up the prospect of real change in Europe, which could enable Britain to stay in the bloc.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said the party respected the outcome of last year’s referendum vote to leave, while McDonnell insisted there was no desire to reopen the divisions over Brexit.“
Speaking at a strike rally for low-paid hospital workers in east London, McDonnell said Labour was confident it would be able to negotiate continued access to European markets after Brexit.
He said the result of the referendum had to be respected and that what most “ordinary people” now wanted was a Brexit that would protect the economy and their jobs.
“We believe we can achieve that traditional British compromise of bringing people back together again,” he said. “That is what we need now. What we don’t want is to have divisions in the country again.
“To be frank, Mr Blair hasn’t really listened to the nature of the debate that is going on in the pubs, the clubs and school gates.”
McDonnell’s comments were echoed by the Brexit minister Robin Walker, who called Blair “out of touch”.
“The majority of British people voted to leave the EU. The majority of MPs, including Blair’s own Labour party, voted to trigger article 50,” he said.
“By calling for the will of the people and parliament to be overturned, Tony...
Reacting to the news that the final vote in the House of Commons on building a third runway at Heathrow airport has been postponed again until 2018, John McDonnell said:
“Instead of kicking the decision into the long grass as they have done for the last 7 years, the government should show some leadership and scrap the plans altogether.
“The result of the General Election means a third runway at Heathrow looks increasingly unlikely to ever be built.
“London has a very serious air pollution problem and building a third runway at Heathrow is incompatible with meeting our air pollution targets.
“My constituents face losing their homes, jobs and livelihoods. We won’t stop campaigning against this runway until the plans are scrapped once and for all.”
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