Theresa May’s Tories should stand down as they have “no right to govern”, John McDonnell has said.
The Shadow Chancellor said Labour should be allowed to put forward an alternative Queen’s Speech as the Conservatives had “junked their manifesto” since failing to win an overall majority.
But, in a testy exchange with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, he was accused of “egging on” protesters who will march on Parliament today as part of a so-called “day of rage” in a bid to “bring down the government”.
Robinson asked McDonnell: “Do you accept that [Labour] lost the election?”
McDonnell replied: “Yes and I’m bitterly disappointed that we did so we have to accept that but we also have to accept that the government didn’t win it either.”
He added: “[The Tories] haven’t got an overall majority. So, yes, they have got the right to bring forward their own programme, but I don’t believe, actually, that they are legitimate in the sense that they have got a mandate that they asked for.”
Robinson pointed out the Conservatives “got more seats, got more votes” and “in every sense, even morally, they won and they are legitimate”.
McDonnell called that an “interesting point” and added: “They won the largest number of seats so that enables them to bring forward a programme but here’s the rub, they have actually junked the manifesto on which they fought the election so they now have no manifesto.
“We are now in a situation where I don’t think they have got the right to govern. However, they are now bringing forward their programme.
“We’ll seek to amend it. I think they are in such disarray now, in the interest of the country, they should stand down and give Labour the opportunity of forming a minority government.”
Robinson said McDonnell sounded “very reasonable on the radio” but said he had told the Morning Star that the government was “not legitimate” and had “not got the right to govern”, before he added: “You’re egging [the protestors] on, aren’t you?”
McDonnell said: “I said that I would like to see a million people on the streets because I believe you have the legitimate right to demonstrate and protest but it has to be peaceful and you have the right therefore to change government policy and change government as a result of that.
“I believe they have forfeited their right to govern because one, they are bringing forward a programme which is not based upon a manifesto, they have junked their own manifesto, they are doing deals with the DUP in secret, behind closed doors, and they haven’t got a majority so on that basis, I don’t believe they have got the right to govern.”
Ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the Tory manifesto disappeared from the party’s official website.
For around ten minutes, people attempting to view the document were met with an error message.
The party later said this was down to a “technical glitch” with the website.
McDonnell was forced to clarify he was not encouraging violence in the protests, which come after anger flared in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
He said: “People can be angry but they mustn’t resort to violence.
“If you want to see what effective protest is about - follow the lead of Ghandi, not others.
“Violence does not work, it is counterproductive. You lose the message in violence.”
Referring to previous comments he made regarding “insurrection”, Mr McDonnell said: “What I said was, in the old days we used to call it insurrection, now we call it direct action and demonstrations, and, of course, democracy is about debate and discussion.”