Union chief Len McCluskey takes fight to Ukip and claims ally Jeremy Corbyn could step down if Labour’s fortunes don’t improve
There could potentially be two major players for the leadership of the Labour Party and the only two who could now possibly unite it again after the disastrous Jeremy Corbyn incident.
Gerard Coyne (pictured below) who is strongly against free movement, and Len McCluskey.
Both these men are highly respected powerful union men and leadership material within their own right.
But, would they take the leadership of the Labour Party if enough support were to materialise?
Len McCluskey, the head of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, has voiced concerns over Labour losing ground to Ukip. “We need to expose what Ukip stands for; not just anti-foreign – anti-workers’ rights, their hidden agenda on the NHS and welfare state.
“But it will only work if ordinary people believe Labour is listening to their concerns and has solutions.”
The union leader, who is standing for re-election as general secretary of Unite, says he will continue to tackle “bullying bosses and bad employers”.
He added: “We are fearless in defending ordinary working people.”
McCluskey believes that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn needs more time to prove himself.
The head Unite spoke about Labour’s chances in the 2020 General Election. “Let’s suppose we are not having a snap election. It buys into this question of what happens if we get to 2019 and opinion polls are still awful.
“The truth is everybody would examine that situation, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”
He spoke to the Mirror about the personalities of the party leader and shadow chancellor: “These two are not egomaniacs, they are not desperate to cling on to power for power’s sake.”
Another close ally of Corbyn, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I would say to you that reports of the Labour party’s demise are much exaggerated. We are the largest social democratic party in Europe. And that huge surge in membership is due to the current leadership.”
In Corbyn’s New Year message, he vowed to challenge “extremely negative messages” from Ukip.
“I will challenge UKIP on the basis that Ukip attacks minorities who run our health service, offers to privatise the health service but doesn’t offer to build any houses, doesn’t offer to deal with the issues facing communities and doesn’t do anything to challenge the appalling underfunding of local government, particularly in the poorest areas,” he said.
A TOP union figure has launched an extraordinary attack on EU free movement rules, saying Britain’s working classes have been betrayed so rich establishment figures can hire cheap nannies and butlers.
In an eviscerating assessment of successive governments’ approach to border control, Gerard Coyne argued mass migration has helped widen inequality between the haves and have-nots in broken Britain.
He tore into the establishment’s claims that Brexit will bring economic disaster, saying Britain will prosper and flourish outside the EU and should leave the single market.
In a series of devastating remarks he said the rich and powerful wanted to keep freedom of movement because it allowed them to hire cheap nannies and cleaners whilst watering down the wages of British workers.
His jaw-dropping outburst will heap huge pressure on Theresa May to prioritise regaining control of immigration over single market access in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Mr Coyne, who is battling to become the next leader of the Unite union, warned that ordinary workers will feel “betrayed” and angry if the PM caves into Brussels over free movement.
His comments, to be made in a speech to union activists in Birmingham tomorrow, place him squarely at odds with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has repeatedly refused to consider any change to EU migration rules.
Unite is Labour’s biggest financial backer, and if Mr Coyne succeeds in unseating current chief Len McCluskey he would make the party leader’s position increasingly untenable.
Tearing into free movement, the union chief will say: “The better off have been able to hire Europeans as their cleaners, or nannies, and have their cars washed at little cost, by people eager to work and prepared to accept what are, by UK standards, low wages.
“But for the many Britons facing insecurity in the job market, who rely on public services such as the NHS and state schools, and who need affordable homes, the presence of a very large number of foreign nationals has added to the pressures they already face at a time of austerity.
“Theresa May and other ministers should not wait until Article 50 has been triggered to set out a negotiating position on free movement of labour. They should be saying now, without equivocation, that the issue is non-negotiable.
“There can be no compromise on the principle of taking back control of our borders.”
And Mr Coyne, who is currently Unite’s West Midlands regional secretary, fired off a warning to Mrs May, telling her voters will not let her go back on the mandate delivered by the June 23 referendum.
He blasted: “My many conversations with Unite members leave me in no doubt that those who voted for Brexit expect that promise of an end to uncontrolled immigration from the EU to be kept, and will feel betrayed if it is not.
“Let us not fool ourselves. Brexit means exit. It means a world in which we have to be competitive enough to thrive outside the single European market.”
Mr Coyne’s outburst will be seen as an attempt to reconnect with millions of disenfranchised working class voters, particularly in northern England, who have been deserting Labour under the leadership of Mr Corbyn and his gaggle of metropolitan Islington elites.
It comes after the shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer called for an end to free movement, saying the party needed to have a “fundamental rethink” of its immigration policies.