- John McDonnell insists Labour is heading for a majority government despite falling behind the Conservatives in two polls this week.
- The shadow chancellor told BI a recent poll putting the Tories four points ahead was “within the margin of error.”
- McDonnell insisted leaked analysis showing likely damage of Brexit has not made him reconsider Labour’s Brexit policy.
- He said the “tone” of negotiations was to blame for gloomy forecasts.
LONDON – John McDonnell has told Business Insider that he believes Labour will form a majority government at the next election despite falling behind the Conservatives in two recent opinion polls.
The shadow chancellor insisted Labour was still “neck and neck” with the Conservatives and dismissed a YouGov poll published on Thursday which put Labour four points behind the Tories as within the “margin of error.”
Two separate polls published this week showed Jeremy Corbyn’s party were falling behind despite weeks of government infighting and confusion over its Brexit policy.
However, McDonnell insisted his party were still “neck and neck” with the Tories.
“No no. Look, all the recent polls have put us either one two points ahead or behind,” McDonnell told BI on Thursday.
“Four points is within the margin of error for a poll of that size. We know we are neck and neck with the Tories. We know that.”
He added that Labour was on track to form a majority government at the next general election.
“We are campaigning around the country. What’s coming back to us on the ground are ideas being fed to us that will go into our next manifesto, make it just as successful as the last manifesto, and make sure we get a Labour government with a clear majority.”
McDonnell spoke to BI in Preston, northwest England, where he launched a scheme to help all Labour-led councils deal with government cuts to their budgets by giving them the tools to rebuild their “blighted” local economies.
McDonnell tells May to “shift over” on Brexit
A leaked government analysis of how Brexit could impact Britain’s regions shows that every region in the country faces having their economies reduced as a result of leaving the European Union.
The northwest of England, where McDonnell was speaking, could have up to 12% of its GDP hit as a result of Brexit.
However, McDonnell said recent impact assessments have not led him to reconsider Labour’s Brexit policy, insisting the “tone” of the UK government’s approach to negotiations was to blame for gloomy forecasts.
Labour’s current policy is to keep Britain in the single market and customs during transition. However, a number of Labour MPs want the leadership to go further and commit to both institutions on a permanent basis.
“The reason we are seeing these figures coming out of the Treasury and elsewhere is because of the state of negotiations,” he said.
“We are in a situation where this government has proven itself to be incapable of delivering a deal that protects the job and economy.
“That’s why we are saying ‘shift over, we’ll be able to do that’ because we can change the tone of negotiations, secure a deal which gets us tariff-free access to the single market, and enables us to protect jobs in that way.”
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