Five of Labour’s top economic advisors have criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts before the “major disaster” of defeat in the EU referendum.
The group of five added to complaints about Corbyn’s role in the run-up to the Brexit vote by saying they are “unhappy” with his role in the EU campaign.
In a statement to LabourList they also called for urgent action to tackle the “impasse” over Britain’s role in Europe.
“We all share the view that the EU referendum result is a major disaster for the UK, and we have felt unhappy that the Labour leadership has not campaigned more strongly to avoid this outcome. We believe it is now crucial to find a way to resolve the economic and political impasse with the EU in a way that brings the least damage possible to the UK economy and those of our neighbours.”
The statement, below, was signed by Diane Elson, Mariana Mazzucato, Anastasia Nesvetailova, Ann Pettifor, Simon Wren-Lewis. The group of five have not resigned and make it clear they would be “honoured” to continue to advise Labour. Their stance is in contrast to Danny Blanchflower, who stepped down last night, and issued a withering critique of Corbyn’s “idiotic games” amid the crisis over Brexit.
Prof Nesvetailova and Prof Mazzucato were among the roster of big-name economists, as well as author and academic Thomas Piketty, unveiled by Corbyn and John McDonnell just weeks after the last leadership election. Their brief has been to develop an alternative to the austerity agenda put forward by David Cameron and George Osborne.
The criticisms of Corbyn’s EU campaign made by the group of five echo those of Alan Johnson, the head of the Labour In campaign, who this week said at times he felt the leader’s office was “working against the rest of the Party and had conflicting objectives”.
Corbyn’s team have pointed out that he made several high-profile speeches in support of the EU campaign in the final months as well as giving a series of broadcast interviews and taking part in a Sky News special on the referendum.
Statement from members of Labour’s Economic Advisory Committee
In September 2015, we were pleased to accept the invitation to serve on an Economic Advisory Council (EAC). We felt strongly that it represented an opportunity to develop a vision of a progressive economic policy for Britain that departed from the destructive austerity narrative. Our collective view is that the EAC, and its various policy review groups, has indeed had a positive influence on the development of Labour’s economic policy, and we hope it continues whatever the result of current divisions.
We have always seen this body as providing advice to the Labour party as a whole, and not as an endorsement of particular individuals within it. For example we all share the view that the EU referendum result is a major disaster for the UK, and we have felt unhappy that the Labour leadership has not campaigned more strongly to avoid this outcome. We believe it is now crucial to find a way to resolve the economic and political impasse with the EU in a way that brings the least damage possible to the UK economy and those of our neighbours. We will be honoured to advise the Labour Party in the future, should our advice be sought once the current situation is resolved.