The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Labour Remainers ’should back PM’

- By Glen Owen and Brendan Car­lin

PETER MAN­DEL­SON has is­sued a ral­ly­ing call to mod­er­ate Labour MPs left shell-shocked by Jeremy Cor­byn’s Elec­tion suc­cess, urg­ing them to help prop up Theresa May in re­turn for a ‘soft’ Brexit.

The Labour grandee calls for MPs who wanted to stay in the EU to use the hung Par­lia­ment – and Mrs May’s po­lit­i­cal weak­ness – as an op­por­tu­nity to put pres­sure on her to keep the UK in the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union dur­ing Brexit dis­cus­sions.

Hint­ing at a new al­liance be­tween mod­er­ates, Lord Man­del­son says the ‘new par­lia­men­tary arith­metic’ should be used to out-ma­noeu­vre ‘head­bangers’ who want to cut ties with Brus­sels.

Writ­ing in to­day’s Mail on Sun­day, he says: ‘I be­lieve that if [Theresa May] shows flex­i­bil­ity, most of the coun­try will back her. It would be churl­ish for peo­ple like me and other Remainers not to give her po­lit­i­cal back­ing.’

He adds point­edly: ‘There are Labour MPs who want to work in the na­tional in­ter­est and will sup­port her if she does the right thing for the coun­try.’

Lord Man­del­son’s re­marks came as Mr Cor­byn’s ex­tra­or­di­nary Gen­eral Elec­tion per­for­mance failed to si­lence some of his Labour crit­ics – with one re­fus­ing point-blank to re­turn to the Op­po­si­tion front­bench.

For­mer Shadow Chan­cel­lor Chris Les­lie sparked fury among Cor­byn sup­port­ers by dis­miss­ing the party’s sur­prise Elec­tion re­sult as ‘not good enough’.

Mr Les­lie, who quit Labour’s front­bench when Mr Cor­byn was first elected leader in 2015, said: ‘We shouldn’t pre­tend that this is a fa­mous vic­tory.’ And while he con­ceded that many peo­ple now saw Mr Cor­byn as ‘cred­i­ble’, he said that the Labour leader’s views on the econ­omy and se­cu­rity made serv­ing on his team im­pos­si­ble.

Another se­nior MP said pri­vately: ‘Jeremy sur­prised us all with his cam­paign per­for­mance but many of us still have se­ri­ous doubts that he can ever be Prime Min­is­ter ma­te­rial.’ Last night, sources close to An­gela Ea­gle, who launched a lead­er­ship chal­lenge against the Labour leader last sum­mer af­ter brand­ing him ‘un­able’ to do the job, said that she would now con­sider work­ing with Mr Cor­byn.

In her ac­cep­tance speech last week af­ter be­ing re-elected as MP for Wal­lasey, Ms Ea­gle de­clared: ‘I pledge to play any part my party should ask of me.’ Hilary Benn, another fierce critic of Mr Cor­byn, was un­avail­able for com­ment yes­ter­day but friends sug­gested he was more likely to seek re-elec­tion as chair­man of the Com­mons Brexit com­mit­tee than to re­join the party’s front­bench.

Ex-Shadow Home sec­re­tary Yvette Cooper – who had been the favourite to launch a lead­er­ship chal­lenge if Mr Cor­byn had fal­tered at the Elec­tion – was also not avail­able for com­ment. But se­nior Labour MP Mike Gapes dis­missed sug­ges­tions that Mr Cor­byn would have won the Elec­tion had more in the party sup­ported him.

He told one Twit­ter user yes­ter­day: ‘This is fan­tasy and you know it. MPs all worked hard to get a Labour vic­tory. “JC” cam­paign more ef­fec­tive than ex­pected. But we still lost.’

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