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Don't let second referendum calls undermine Corbyn, McCluskey warns

Unite leader says members will see through 'poor imitation of Machiavelli' Tom Watson

LEN McCLUSKEY has urged Labour supporters to reject “siren calls” of people campaigning for a second EU referendum in warning that their purpose is to “undermine” Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live this morning, the Unite general secretary called on party members to resist being “seduced” by demands for a second Brexit vote after 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU three years ago.

Mr McCluskey added: “When you look at some of the Remainers and their leading lights – Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Tom Baldwin – these are people who have indicated they would sooner have a Tory government than a Corbyn government.

“So take no notice of those phoneys and stick with Corbyn.”

The European Parliament election results were expected to be announced tonight and tomorrow morning after voters went to the polls on Thursday.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that Labour is “braced” for disappointing results after having tried to bring the divided country of Leave and Remain supporters back together.

At the time of going to press, it was expected that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will decisively dominate in the election results, with Labour as a runner-up. The Conservatives were on course for their lowest ever share of the vote in a nationwide ballot.

Mr McCluskey also took aim at Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who wrote in today’s Observer that Labour must back a second referendum or face losing the next general election.

He accused Mr Watson of behaving unscrupulously, saying: “Tom Watson’s already out – surprise, surprise – with his trying to take on the role of Prince Machiavelli.

“I know Tom and his tricks – that’s exactly what he’s up to. But I’ve got news for Tom: Machiavelli was effective and he’s a poor imitation of that.”

He also said that if other figures attempt to “turn Labour members against Corbyn”, then they are going to “lose disastrously.”

Mr McCluskey also warned party members loyal to Mr Corbyn that “others in the coming days will try and do the same.”

In the past fortnight, former supporters of the Labour leadership such as journalist Paul Mason and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis have threatened unrest within the party if Mr Corbyn does not offer a Brexit policy position that is closer to the wishes of the Liberal Democrats and Mr Watson.

But Mr McCluskey warned that any attempt to have a second referendum would “deflect upon the democratic fabric on which we operate” and would alienate disillusioned Labour voters who voted to Leave in 2016.

He added: “Now is the time to hold your nerve, because a general election, which is the only thing that will resolve this situation, is closer now than anything and a real test of what the British people want.

“The only thing that will actually unite this nation and take us forward is a Jeremy Corbyn government.”


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