Advertisement

Why Corbyn’s Trump protest divides his party, writes Robert Peston

Donald Trump has said Jeremy Corbyn should have attended the banquet. Credit: AP/PA

In refusing to come out for a confirmatory referendum as the primary aim of Brexit policy, Jeremy Corbyn, and his 4M allies - Len McCluskey, Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray - have signalled they would not want to turn their backs on Labour's traditional working class voters, many of whom were Brexiters, and did not wish Labour to become the party of the lefty London middle classes.

So it is a bit confusing that Labour's leader has chosen not only to boycott the state banquet for Donald Trump tonight, but tomorrow he'll be the most important speaker at the anti-Trump rally.

Because in being the figurehead for the anti-Trump movement Corbyn is playing explicitly to the metropolitan middle class gallery.

Even if Labour's working-class voters don't love Trump, they have traditionally been pro America.,

In fact, it is possible to see traditional Labour voters' preference for the UK to maintain strong bonds with America as the flip side of their mistrust of the EU - with these North Atlantic leanings in part a legacy of WW2.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying Corbyn is right or wrong to put himself at the vanguard of those incensed that Trump is here.

But I am saying Corbyn is not doing himself any favours with those working class voters he claims to so desperately wish to retain in the Labour fold, and on whose behalf he refuses to recast Labour as the Referendum and Remain Party.

Here is the point. On my show last week, McCluskey praised Corbyn for being a unique political leader endeavouring to serve the interests of both Remainers and Leavers (even if the nation as a whole did not seem to register its awareness and gratitude in EU elections that saw Labour's share of the vote slump to 14%).

But when it comes to Trump and America, Corbyn is being unambiguously true to the London metropolis that is his home.