POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn Allies Hit Back After Peter Mandelson Reveals He Is 'Working Every Day' To Topple Him

Labour leader's allies hit back with 'oligarch's yachts' jibe

21/02/2017 09:41 GMT | Updated 21/02/2017 17:19 GMT

Allies of Jeremy Corbyn have hit back at Peter Mandelson after he revealed that he is working “every single day” to bring about the Labour leader’s downfall.

The former Cabinet minister said that the Labour leader was living “in a parallel universe” and was incapable of taking the party to victory in a general election.

His withering verdict on Corbyn, delievered at a Jewish Chronicle event in Hampstead, came hours after a new ICM/Guardian opinion poll gave the Tories an 18-point lead over Labour.

Mandelson said: “I work every single day to bring forward the end of his [Mr Corbyn’s] tenure in office. Every day I try to do something to rescue the Labour Party from his leadership.”

But a Labour source told HuffPost UK: “The idea of Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister and implementing policies that actually benefit the people terrifies the establishment.

“So it’s no surprise Peter Mandelson has found time in his busy schedule of spending time on oligarch’s yachts to attempt to undermine him.”

The jibe was a reference to an incident in 2008 when the Labour peer famously joined George Osborne on a yacht belonging to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, as a guest of financier Nathaniel Rothschild.

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in with Stoke Central Labour candidate Gareth Snell

An ex-Trade and Industry Secretary under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the Labour peer said on Monday night that Corbyn had “no idea in the 21st century how to conduct himself as a leader of a party putting itself forward in a democratic election”.

Speaking at the JC Editors Choice event at the JW3 community centre, Mandelson said he didn’t want to “just walk away and pass the title deeds of this great party over to someone like Jeremy Corbyn”.

“I don’t want to, I resent it and I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his tenure in office.

“Something, however small it may be – an email, a phone call or a meeting I convene – every day I try to do something to save the Labour party from his leadership.”

Mandelson added: ”The problem with Jeremy is not that he’s a nasty man. It’s as if he’s in a parallel universe.

“He’ll gravitate to whatever revolt, insurrection, every protest movement in sight.

“He’s been like this for 35 years. He was not a frequent supporter of the last Labour government - he voted against it 500 times!”

As Mandelson spoke, Corbyn was facing fresh leadership questions from MPs at the weekly Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting in the Commons.

Asked to explain the dire poll ratings, he referred to “problems we have had in the media”, adding “we do a lot better on social media”.

At the PLP meeting, Corbyn warned that the Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-elections this Thursday were “on a knife-edge”.

But Labour backbencher told him that the “main problem on the doorstep...is Jeremy Corbyn”.

Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
Lord Mandelson and Tony Blair

At the Hampstead event, Mandelson ruled out leaving Labour, saying: ”Why do you want to walk away and pass it to Jeremy Corbyn? I resent it”.

Speaking earlier in the House of Lords on Monday, the peer claimed that while the British public voted for Brexit they did not wish to turn the UK into a “poorer, politically isolated, off-shore tax haven without reach or influence in the world”.

On Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, Mandelson urged peers to amend the EU withdrawal bill and called on the public to answer Tony Blair’s call to “rise up” against a ‘Brexit at all costs’.

In the Lords on Tuesday, former Mandelson deputy Lord Liddle savaged Corbyn for his performance in the EU referendum campaign.

“I hang my head in shame that the leaders of this country, and my party, were not able to win the majority for remain last June, and it will live with me to my dying day

“Let’s be frank, and I do say this with terrible sadness, the debilitation of our own party contributed to Brexit. We have a leader who, unlike the vast majority of Labour members including many of those who joined up in order to support him, has never been a European true believer.

“And in the referendum he failed the key test of democratic politics, which is to cut through media cynicism and the mass of seething public discontents with a compelling and positive case for Europe which forced voters to listen.”