John McDonnell attacked in Commons for IRA support

Tory MPs have angrily accused John McDonnell of supporting terrorists after the shadow chancellor questioned George Osborne's fitness for office.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 4:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 4:52 pm
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was attacked by Tory MPs after he described George Osborne as a 'political chancellor'

Mr McDonnell described Mr Osborne as a “political chancellor” who should resign after attempting to personally force through cuts to disability benefits using “grubby, incompetent manipulations”.

The Labour frontbencher said Mr Osborne’s behaviour before and after the Budget “certainly calls into question his fitness” for Government office.

But Tory MPs criticised him for making a point about integrity on the day of a terror attack in Brussels, considering Mr McDonnell in 2003 said “the bombs and bullets” of the IRA had been responsible for bringing about the peace process.

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Former Army officer Tom Tugendhat said Mr McDonnell had stood alongside terrorists who murdered his friends.

The Tonbridge and Malling MP said: “You have called into question the morality of the leadership of the Chancellor.

“Will you please discuss with this House the morality that allows you to stand with bombers who murdered my friends in Northern Ireland and question the integrity of the Chancellor?”

Fellow Tory James Cartlidge also intervened.

“You make a very personal point about fitness for office on the day of a major terrorist attack,” the South Suffolk MP said. “Will you withdraw your previous support for terrorist organisations that have attacked this country ...?”

Mr Cartlidge was then drowned out by cheers from Tory MPs and shouts from Labour MPs.

Mr McDonnell replied: “You have heard me share the sentiments of the whole House on the issue of Belgium.

“To bring that into the debate as a political point at this stage is unacceptable.”

Responding to Mr Osborne’s speech in the Budget debate, Mr McDonnell had said: “Let me make it clear from the outset that in my view, and I believe that of many others, the behaviour of the Chancellor over the last 11 days calls into question his fitness for the office he now holds.

“I also believe that it certainly calls into question his fitness for any leading office in Government.

“What we’ve seen is not the actions of a chancellor, a senior government minister, but the grubby, incompetent manipulations of a political chancellor.”