Jeremy Corbyn used his opening election pitch this morning to promise that he wouldn’t follow the “rules” of the “establishment”. As if to show how different he could be to a conventional professional politician, he came swiftly unstuck over policy questions – namely whether he would rule out a second referendum on the terms of the UK’s final Brexit deal. The Labour leader failed to do so, and it fell to a spokesman to clarify hours later that “a second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto.” At the same time, John McDonnell was out on the stump in Luton, and he pointedly failed to rule out a second referendum, suggesting that the Shadow Chancellor hadn’t got the memo.
Labour MPs are continuing to decide it is better to stand down in June, including Gisela Stuart and Rob Marris. Tom Harris isn’t surprised, writing today: “Those who know him best, who have served with him in the Commons over the years, have already made up their minds. And they’re voting with their feet.”
Theresa May might be tempted to look upon Labour’s drama and feel an electoral landslide is assured. The latest YouGov poll, putting the Tories on 48 per cent, double Labour’s share of 24 per cent, would reinforce that belief. Labour MPs are also adding to it, with Helen Goodman declaring that the election was not about changing the government, but about “preventing the Tories from getting such an overwhelming majority that there is no possibility of dissent in this country.” But this risks opening up a different problem of voters feeling that Mrs May is so certain to romp to victory that they don’t need to turn out to vote. The Tories may have to start building up Mr Corbyn so that their voters can knock him down.
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