JOHN McDONNELL warned yesterday that some Labour MPs are prepared to destroy the party in their campaign to remove democratically elected leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The shadow chancellor said a “small group” of MPs opposed to Mr Corbyn’s leadership from the start and the anonymously run Saving Labour were intent on creating a split.
He spoke out after former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra accused one of Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell’s aides of breaking into her office.
Ms Malhotra alleged that Karie Murphy, who managed the offices of the Labour leadership, had gained “illegal” and “unauthorised entry” into her office on two occasions. She also told the Observer that her staff felt “harassed, intimidated and insecure” and has written a letter of complaint to Speaker John Bercow.
But Mr McDonnell dismissed the “distressing” allegations yesterday, explaining Ms Murphy had a key to the room because she was the office manager for the whole shadow Treasury team.
He said that Ms Murphy had entered the room to check whether Ms Malhotra, who resigned from the shadow cabinet a month earlier, had vacated when boxes appeared outside.
And he added: “I’ve now got a member of staff — I’ll describe her to you: She’s a widow, with daughters, this is her sole income.
She’s one of the pleasantest, most helpful people I’ve come across. — She’s now worried that she’s going to lose her job and face prosecution because it’s being described as a break-in.”
Addressing allegations of bullying, Mr McDonnell also disclosed that Ms Malhotra’s staff had invited Ms Murphy for drinks and a meal last week. The shadow chancellor then looked directly into the camera to make an appeal to Labour MPs. “We’ve got to stop this now,” he said.
“There is a small group out there that are willing to destroy our party just to remove Jeremy Corbyn. We have got to stop them. We’ve got to unite.
“If you want to come for me and Jeremy, that’s up to you. But don’t pick on staff who can’t defend themselves.”