UK

Ken Loach Defends Jeremy Corbyn Over Brexit In James O'Brien's LBC Interview

'If you just want a three word slogan, that’s not his style'.

21/02/2017 16:11 GMT | Updated 21/02/2017 16:11 GMT

Left-wing film maker Ken Loach has defended Jeremy Corbyn against claims he failed to show leadership during Labour’s campaign to remain in the EU.

The I, Daniel Blake director denied LBC host James O’Brien’s suggestion that Corbyn was losing support because of his “absence of leadership.”

Labour backed Remain but Corbyn’s history of criticising the EU over decades on the backbenches left people in doubt over how he had even voted.

He rated his own support for staying at the EU at seven out of 10 and there were even accusations his aides were sabotaging the Remain campaign. The anger within Labour led to him being challenged for the leadership within days of the June vote.

Anthony Harvey via Getty Images
Ken Loach (left) said Jeremy Corbyn (right) had 'done justice to complicated subjects' during the Brexit referendum

On O’Brien’s show on Tuesday, Loach said Corbyn’s rhetoric “does justice to complicated subjects” and blamed Labour MPs for defying him and his team for Labour’s terrible polling.

When O’Brien raised the fact that former supporters like Owen Jones had distanced themselves from Corbyn since the Brexit vote, Loach said: “The referendum’s a big issue but the European Union’s a club for employers.

“It promotes privatisation and supports employers against workers’ rights.

“It’s a difficult subject for the Left and I think Jeremy’s arguments reflected that. If you just want a three word slogan, that’s not his style.”

He called the media coverage of the campaign “an argument over two sections of the Right”.

Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Corbyn's campaigning for Remain led Labour colleagues to question his position on Brexit

When O’Brien put it to him that this may have been due to Corbyn’s failure to step up, Loach said: “May well be... I’m not in his office.

“But the overwhelming central point is you’ve got to look at the vast number of MPs who refuse to put out what the members want and what the leadership is asking.”

He said these MPs were “refusing to promote the very policies that people need.” 

He praised Shadow Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams for committing to abolishing assessments that allow the Department of Work and Pensions to overrule doctors who say benefits claimants aren’t fit to work.

This is central to his film I, Daniel Blake, which is about a 59-year-old joiner forced to look for work, despite being unwell after suffering a massive heart attack.

“If you listen to Jeremy Corbyn he is making it,” Loach said, when O’Brien asked why Labour was failing “to make the case you’re making in cinemas.” 

The film maker added: “The problem lies with the Labour MPs who don’t represent the party membership, that voted 60% or more for Jeremy Corbyn.

“They don’t promote the policies and so the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell is left stranded.”

In an interview with HuffPost UK last year, Loach said he voted to remain in the EU despite his issues with the bloc, which he called “a project to support big capital.”