John McDonnell has said reports of a split between him and Jeremy Corbyn have been invented by drunk journalists.
According to The Sunday Times, McDonnell has called for the Labour leader to sack his chief of staff Karie Murphy and communications chief Seumas Milne.
But Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, the shadow chancellor said: “I’ve not said to sack anybody.”
“What happens in July in parliament is journalists, the Lobby, stagger from reception to reception drinking some of the most nauseating wine ever produced from a grape,” he said.
“What then happens is they exaggerate and invent stories.”
McDonnell denied he had been frozen out by Corbyn. “It’s myth, it’s rubbish,” he said.
“Jeremy and I go back 40 years. We are the closest of friends. We minded each others backs all the way through that period. And we always will.
“But let’s make it clear, Jeremy and I talk about policies on a daily basis. Yes, we will disagree on things but we will then come to an agreement.”
But McDonnell, who has described Labour’s Brexit policy as a “slow motion car crash”, said the party had to move towards a more explicitly pro-Remain position “sooner rather than later”.
Labour is also braced for the findings of a major documentary investigation into its handling of anti-Semitism claims.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson hit out at a clampdown on former staff blowing the whistle on its handling of allegations ahead of the BBC Panorama documentary due to be aired on Wednesday.
“Using expensive media lawyers in attempt to silence staff members is as futile as it is stupid. It’s not the Labour way and I deplore it,” he tweeted.
The Sunday Times says up to half a dozen ex-employees have torn up non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to speak to the programme.
According to the paper, Carter Ruck – acting on behalf of Labour – has written to Sam Matthews, the party’s former head of disputes, warning he could face legal action for breaking his NDA.
A letter is reported to warn that the party “cannot be expected to and will not tolerate its former employees wantonly disregarding their obligations by selectively leaking information to the media”.