Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Keir Starmer backer Lord Adonis grilled over previous criticism of him
25 January 2020, 14:57
Lord Adonis, who now backs Sir Keir Starmer for Labour leader, had previously said that he was "not a leader in any form".
Lord Adonis referred to Sir Keir Starmer as "by far the most impressive of the candidates" and capable of winning an election.
He said he's impressed by Starmer because of previous job as Director of Public Prosecutions and because he stands in the "solid centre ground of the Labour Party".
Andrew Pierce, however, challenged him on previous criticism of the Labour leadership contender.
He said: "Can I just remind you something you wrote: 'a consistent disappointment and failure throughout the Brexit process'. Who did you say that about?"
That was about Keir Starmer.
Lord Adonis said that he's also "not a leader in any form".
Lord Adonis replied: "You've found my Achilles heel.
"Let me explain this because is quite important to understanding how my own thinking developed.
"That was in the early stages of the Brexit process."
He continued: "A lot has happened on Brexit in the last year."
Adonis elaborated: "Let me be completely open and frank about this. A year ago, we weren't committed to a referendum, as I was calling for a second referendum on Brexit, we weren't committed if there was a second referendum to supporting the Remain cause.
"I thought at that stage that Keir and the Labour leadership, including people who I knew were in favour of membership of the European Union, had been compromising too far.
"Let me be frank, what I said in that article, which you've just quoted, I also said to Keir Starmer himself.
"He explained to me that this was a long game, that we had to carry public opinion with us, we had to carry opinion in the party with us and we also had to respond to the negotiations that were taking place in Brussels."
Adonis then said: "Now to be fair to Keir, and this is what changed my view of him fundamentally, he did get us to the position before the last election where we did support a second referendum and we did support having Remain as an option.
"It all went wrong, I'm afraid, because of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and in particular him with the Liberal Democrats pressing towards a general election before we had a referendum.
"So it went wrong. It didn't go wrong because of Keir. On the contrary, what I had been calling for a year ago and the reason why I've been criticising him, which is I thought he was sitting on the fence, not leading and not getting us to a position where we're giving the British people the chance to stop Brexit with a referendum.
"He did, in fact, meet all the points I'd be making every year."
He concluded: "So do you know what my view is, when people actually do what you say and they come round to what you want, don't be churlish and recognise that they can actually be successful and go with it."