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Welsh Labour anger over Euro leaflet 'lack of respect'

An English version of the draft leaflet at the centre of the dispute.

Labour's UK leadership has been accused of showing a "lack of respect" to the party in Wales in its campaign plans for the upcoming European elections.

It's claimed that a leaflet, due to be the party's main postal campaign in Wales, only includes a photo of Jeremy Corbyn and fails to refer to Mark Drakeford.

Critics also say the Welsh Labour Government gets no mention, and neither does holding a new Brexit referendum - despite it being official policy and support from four candidates in Wales.

Jeremy Corbyn applauded by colleagues at the Welsh Labour Conference.

I also understand that those candidates have been reprimanded by officials for stating their support for a fresh referendum in an online article.

There had already been criticism of the draft leaflet elsewhere.

According to a report by Huffpost, senior figures such as the shadow Brexit Secretary, Deputy Leader and shadow Foreign Secretary weren't consulted about its wording.

It makes no reference to the push for a new referendum sometimes known as a "People's Vote" or a "confirmatory referendum," despite it being party policy.

Welsh supporters of the so-called 'People's Vote' have marched in London. Credit: Silas Jones

"As far as a people's vote is concerned, this out-and-out war now," one senior Welsh Labour figure told me, referring also to a public apology made by the staunch remain campaigner Lord Adonis in a statement some claim he was forced to make by the leadership.

I understand that neither the Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) nor the four candidates in Wales were consulted. Though senior Labour figures point out that that would be normal practice. Since European elections aren't devolved, the WEC wouldn't be involved and while candidates have an input, they don't have a final say over party policy.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking behind Welsh Labour's 'standing up for Wales' message.

It's not clear if the leaflet has been printed but I'm told that it will be "Welsh-Labour branded," has been "devo-proofed" and will be bilingual. I gather there's still no plan, though, to include a photo of Mark Drakeford alongside Jeremy Corbyn.

That baffles many I've spoken to. They believe that Drakeford and Corbyn are "politically on the same page" and that emphasising "the Welsh Labour brand" is a political strength for the party.

First Minister Mark Drakeford speaking in the Senedd. Credit: Senedd TV

What's more, they say, it's a matter of simple respect: the Welsh Labour leader is the First Minister of Wales, the only Labour politician leading a government in the UK and should be on the leaflet.

The leaflet has inflamed what was already a tense situation. All four Welsh Labour candidates spoke to the website Labour list to answer questions about their viewpoints.

All four said they were in favour of holding a new referendum. I understand they were reprimanded for doing so in a telling-off by messaging platform Whatsapp although that's denied by officials. I'm told they 'categorically' were not reprimanded for saying they backed a second referendum, they were reminded that, as is normal practice, they needed to clear media activity through the Welsh Labour press office.

They're due to meet the First Minister in Cardiff today, in a meeting which will now have a bigger significance as the Welsh party tries to calm tensions.

A Labour spokesperson said:

This is a short pre-manifesto leaflet to introduce our candidates and set out our commitment to Leave and Remain voters to bring our country together.

It highlights how the Tories’ chaotic handling of Brexit has left our country in crisis and how our MEPs will fight for proper investment in communities, housing, jobs and industries. Our full manifesto, which will address the issues of a Brexit deal and the circumstances of a referendum, will be published after the local elections in England.

– Labour spokesperson

Two Labour Assembly Members have posted on Twitter their concerns about the leaflet.

ITV News Political Editor, Robert Peston tweeted that a decision had been made to rewrite the leaflets:

"Leadership noticed that someone had 'forgotten' to include any reference to the possibility of a confirmatory Brexit referendum".

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