Labour MP will ‘knife Corbyn in the front’ if he damages party’s election chances

© Jess Phillips MP
Labour MP Jess Phillips says she will knife Jeremy Corbyn “in the front, not the back” if he damages the party’s chances of success in the 2020 general election.

Phillips, who has only been in Parliament for seven months, made the remarks in an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

The MP for Birmingham Yardley said she would “do anything” to ensure Labour wins the next general election and that to do the opposite means colluding with the Tories.

Phillips said if the general election was held this week Labour would not win and might even perform worse than the party did in May, when it lost 26 seats.

“At the moment I would say we wouldn’t win the general election, if [it] was called today,” she said.

“A week is a long time in politics and four years is an even longer time, but at the moment I can’t see that the result would be any different [from May] – if not potentially worse – if the general election was called today.”

The recently elected MP has already earned a reputation for her outspokenness. In September, she told the Shadow International Development Secretary Diane Abbot to “f*ck off,” after Phillips challenged the Labour leadership about the lack of women in senior positions.

She also spoke out against Tory MP Philip Davies’ call for a debate on International Men’s Day in the House of Commons.

“As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day,” she said during a meeting of the backbench business committee in October.

Asked by Jones whether Phillips would like to change the leader of the Labour Party, she said: “I would do anything that I felt was going to make the Labour Party win the general election because if I don’t have that attitude then all I’m doing is colluding with the Tories.

“If that means making Jeremy better, I’ll roll my sleeves up. If that’s not going to happen – and I’ve said [this] to him and to his staff to their faces: ‘The day that ... you are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front.’”

Phillips also accused Corbyn of being “pernicious” for stating his opposition to the policy of shoot to kill following the Paris attacks.

“It was just the timing,” she said. “There’s a broader debate to be had about shoot to kill. Birmingham has suffered some terrible terrorism over the years, but [the public] wanted to hear, just after Paris, that basically if a man walks down your street with a big gun and he’s going to kill you and he’s got a bomb strapped to him, we will shoot him in the head, immediately, 10 times.”

The backbencher said the party needs to have a clear message about what it thinks is best for the British people, including those who have voted Conservative in the past.

She added: “I would do whatever I could to make Jeremy Corbyn more electable, but you’ve got to give me something to work with, mate.”