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John McDonnell’s soul-searching | Letters

John McDonnell and other shadow cabinet members this week argued for Labour to adopt a bold socialist remain position. Paul Mason (Labour has only one realistic option on Brexit – back remain, 18 June) makes clear arguments in support but omits the most important point McDonnell and Labour should be making to justify a second referendum on democratic grounds. In the nine months since Labour conference there has been an earth-shattering shift in the Overton window – the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. This is expressed by the extraordinary spread of civil disobedience and non-violent direct action among schoolchildren and older people alike.

This political earthquake is the morphing of the vague public awareness of “climate change” to the fully blown “climate and ecological emergency”. We now know through the UN, Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough that the planet faces irreversible climate and ecological breakdown in 12 years without radical action. Extinction Rebellion has launched. Parliament and many local councils have declared a climate emergency.

McDonnell’s support of a bold remain position is entirely consistent with his commitment to use every lever of government to fight the climate emergency. From the crisis must come clarity. Corbyn must make good his commitment to the XR rebels who chained themselves to his gate saying he is the “best hope our country has got to get us out of this” (Protestors target Jeremy Corbyn on day three of Extinction Rebellion, 18 April). He and Labour must come out wholeheartedly for remain to fight the climate emergency internationally.
Magi Young
Exeter

John McDonnell referred to the position of Labour as a “slow-motion car crash”. The crash awaits the nation, not just the Labour party. he Tory membership will elect Johnson despite warnings from the headmaster, Max Hastings (I was Boris Johnson’s boss – he is utterly unfit for No 10, 25 June).

Jeremy Corbyn’s ill thought-out position is that a crash is good for him – it will show how useless the Tories are. This completely ignores the fact that the majority of his party members and most of the recent recruits will blame the destitution at least partly on his failure to oppose. In the country people are likely to be sympathetic to the arguments that “it’s all the EU” or “it’s all the EU compounded by Boris not being rightwing enough”. We do not have to have the car crash. A consensus of McDonnell and Benn or Starmer can produce a quite different result if they are quick and brave enough. We are well past the point where the wrecking ball strategy can be indulged.
Ben Ashford
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

John McDonnell says he can’t see anything better than what we have with the EU at the moment (Report, 26 June). Nothing better than handing over £13bn (after UK rebate) annually while receiving just £4.1bn in grants, and nothing better than uncontrolled EU immigration imposed from Brussels, rather than British voters having the democratic right to limit immigration to the level and occupations that serve the UK?
Christopher Clayton
Labour party member, Waverton, Cheshire

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