Corbyn right to refuse talks with May, say 60% of LabourList readers

Over 60% of our readers believe that Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse “substantive” Brexit talks with Theresa May last week, the latest LabourList survey has found.

After the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal, then survived a no-confidence vote called by the Labour leader, the Prime Minister invited opposition party leaders to engage in talks.

But Corbyn said no “positive” discussions could be had unless she took ‘no deal’ off the table, which May refused to do. Labour MPs were divided on the issue, with some agreeing that talks were pointless without the assurance and others concerned about public reaction.

The results of the weekly LabourList survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, showed 60.3% of readers agreed with the Labour leader’s recent decision on the cross-party talks, while almost 34% said they disagreed with his position.

The poll also found that around 52% of readers believe the Labour Party’s priority, apart from forcing a general election, should be to stop Brexit. 2,438 respondents, just over 44%, said alternatively that Labour should prioritise securing the best deal.

Corbyn’s spokesperson last week described Labour policy as “the alternative plan that we have laid out”, referring its Brexit proposal including customs union membership.

But the Prime Minister is expected to set out a ‘Plan B’ today that will see her work on the backstop in an effort to win over Tory and DUP MPs rather than build cross-party agreement.

The survey results would suggest that LabourList readers would prefer the opposition party to move on to its other ‘options on the table’, such as backing a fresh public vote.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the questions and readers’ responses.

1. Was Jeremy Corbyn right to refuse “substantive” talks with Theresa May until she rules out ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

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  1. Yes – 60.3% (3,333)
  2. No – 33.9% (1.871)
  3. Don’t know – 5.8% (323)

2. Other than force a general election, what should be Labour’s top priority?

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  1. Try to stop Brexit – 52.1% (2,880)
  2. Secure the best Brexit deal –44.1% (2,438)
  3. Don’t know – 3.8% (209)

3. Who are your top three shadow cabinet members?

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First choice:

  1. Keir Starmer – 2,171
  2. John McDonnell – 1,877
  3. Emily Thornberry – 519

Second choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,244
  2. Keir Starmer – 1,171
  3. Tom Watson – 1,023

Third choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,372
  2. Tom Watson – 855
  3. Keir Starmer – 713
1st 2nd 3rd
Andrew Gwynne 12 23 49
Andy McDonald 2 11 37
Angela Rayner 100 178 258
Barry Gardiner 65 158 211
Christina Rees 2 3 8
Dan Carden 2 15 25
Dawn Butler 9 29 90
Diane Abbott 137 505 482
Emily Thornberry 519 1,244 1,372
John Healey 8 20 48
John McDonnell 1,877 762 629
Jon Ashworth 37 52 120
Jon Trickett 4 11 23
Keir Starmer 2,171 1,171 713
Margaret Greenwood 1 13 20
Nia Griffith 21 74 245
Rebecca Long-Bailey 21 117 165
Richard Burgon 22 72 114
Sue Hayman 19 28 31
Tom Watson 495 1,023 855
Tony Lloyd 3 11 22


The aggregated results show that Keir Starmer, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry were the most popular Labour frontbenchers among LabourList readers last week, with 4,055, 3,268 and 3,135 votes respectively.

A small number of readers got in touch to say that they did not notice the scroll bar when answering the third survey question. We will therefore aim to run the most popular shadow cabinet members question again this week in a different, clearer format.

The survey was open from 4.30pm on Thursday 17th January until 8pm on Sunday 20th January. Thank you to all 5,625 readers who took part.

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