John McDonnell: "Theresa May Do Not Take This Victory In Copeland As A Green Light"

24 February 2017, 15:44 | Updated: 24 February 2017, 15:46

John McDonnell Theresa May

Here Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell defends Labour and delivers a message to the PM in a heated interview with LBC.

The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke to LBC Reporter Vincent McAviney after Jeremy Corbyn's post-by-election speech. 

The party lost a Labour stronghold in Copeland to the Tories, but keep its seat in Stoke-On-Trent Central.

Here Mr McDonnell passionately defends his party in a fiery interview. 

He said: "We defeated UKIP in Stoke when you, and media, and UKIP itself, were saying they were going to romp home and it was going to be the destruction."

Vincent hit back: "Well we didn't say that, and you had Paul Nuttall, you know, a very discredited record, and that very much helped you."

Mr McDonnell said: "Why was he discredited? He was discredited because we campaigned to demonstrate what his record was. So we won in Stoke, we won a decisive victory.

"In Copeland, they were unique circumstances, the political climate now-"

Vincent said: "But what were those circumstances? Because you have a union there that supports nuclear industry, that supports Jeremy, but they couldn't get the people out to back him on it because they didn't trust you."

Mr McDonnell said: "Because they were concerned about the future of Moorside as a project, and we couldn't get breakthrough on that, so that was understandable, they're concerned about the future of their economy and jobs, so I could understand that."

Vincent responded: "You went as far as saying you know, that their maternity ward was under threat and it would put children's lives at threat, but even then they wouldn't support you on the NHS."

The Labour politician said: "Because they put prioritise jobs above public services. But I tell you what I'm saying to Theresa May: Do not take this victory in Copeland as a green light to attack the A&E, maternity services, and the children's wards."

Vincent pointed out: "She's going to be delighted this morning in Downing Street, because she wants Jeremy to stay as long as possible.  Why do not seem to recognise that?"

A riled up Mr McDonnell said: "Oh I tell you; the contrast between her and Jeremy in the coming months will be stark. We will have a leader that fails to deliver a Brexit on behalf of the whole of the country, protect jobs in our economy, and that will be Theresa May."

Vincent said: "You've got a leader who she'll crush in the next election, she's showed that."

John said: "Theresa May will divide her own party and, and she'll fail to deliver the Brexit that protects living standards, jobs, and our economy.  

"Theresa May will be a divisive figure in the future, in this next year, you'll see that Jeremy is a consensual politician, who will bring people together and get the best deal that we need for the long term."  

Vincent adde: "She's got her own party fully behind her.  You haven't managed to do that."

Mr McDonnell: "They're about to tear themselves apart, they're about to tear themselves."

Vincent hit back: "They only had one MP vote against article 50. That was Ken Clarke."

The politician said: "Go and listen to George Osborne's speech in that debate.  What George Osborne said, what George Osborne said is that 'the fight starts after article 50 and I will be amongst it', and that's what he said.  

"You'll see that she'll fail to deliver and she will not be able to unite her party."

Vincent said: "Even with all that background she still managed to take a seat off of you that you've had since the 1930s. The first time in 30 years that a sitting PM has been able to do that, when it's the seat which has nuclear power, which is a union that supports Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, and they cannot get their members to come out and vote for him."

But Mr McDonnell did not back down. He said: "A seat that the Labour vote was eroding over a number of general elections.  A seat in which they voted overwhelmingly for Brexit, where we campaigned for Remain, and a seat where they had a particular issue over the nuclear future of nuclear industry.  Those special circumstances meant it was difficult for us, but we'll win it back."