The Shadow Chancellor was appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday when he was shown a video of Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy accusing the party machine under Jeremy Corbyn of attempting to stifle dissenting voices by “waging a factional war until the other side had been crushed”. In the clip, Ms Nandy told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “It is one thing to have backbenchers doing that. It is quite another thing to hear the leadership of the Labour Party state a commitment to doing that.”
Responding to the claims, Mr McDonnell said: “Of course I did not want to crush Labour MPs who disagreed with me.
“I have kept out of the leadership election.
“I have said I am supporting Rebecca Long-Bailey and Richard Burgon.
“But I have kept out of it. I have not appeared on any platforms. I think one platform, that is all.”
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McDonnell hits out at claims he was ‘waging a war’ in the Labour Party
Lisa Nandy addresses ‘Labour war’ with Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC
Responding directly to leadership contender Ms Nandy’s concerns over factionalism in the party, the Shadow Chancellor said: “I’m not attacking anyone.
“All of the three candidates have said they want to unite the party and look to the future, let’s do that.”
Asked about predictions Labour will be trounced in local election results in May, Mr McDonnell insisted he is confident.
And defending his own record since the general election in December 2019 saw Labour’s support decimated, he said: “Even the Tories now are having to invest on a scale that they never wanted to, we’ve forced them into addressing some of these issues.”
John McDonnell defends his record on the BBC
Mr McDonnell also used his appearance on the programme to rail against the Government’s investment policies ahead of next week’s Budget, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil on Wednesday.
Speaking on BBC One, Mr McDonnell said: “There are lots of lessons that we’ve got to learn, as you said the emphasis that you put is a bit more, it’s nowhere near the scale we need.”
Mr McDonnell said the country faces three emergencies: coronavirus, a crisis in public services and the “existential threat” of climate change.
He added: “The worry that I’ve got is that this Budget will not deliver what we need in terms of the NHS.
“There are long-term issues that have to be addressed and this crisis is made worse by not addressing those long-term issues. We need funding for the NHS, full funding, not just to cope with this virus.”
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But Chancellor Rishi Sunak attempted to allay fears the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the UK would devastate the economy and negatively impact workers.
Mr Sunak also offered assurances the NHS would be given adequate funding to deal with the national crisis.
Speaking on behalf of the Government on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the Chancellor of Exchequer said he is ready to take any action necessary to get the economy through the coronavirus crisis, and that he is working hard to ensure “we have the interventions required”.
He said: “I can take whatever steps are necessary to help us get through this because of those decisions we made in the past, and I think that is just a helpful reminder about the importance of responsible economic management.
“The economy is in a good place, we will get through this.”
Mr Sunak said the Government is prepared to give the NHS “whatever it needs”, and there are “policy levers we can take to ease the short-term burden on businesses’ cash flow” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.