Theresa May’s ‘Remain’ campaigning was worse than Corbyn – why is he taking the flak?

Jeremy Corbyn campaigned far more effectively for the UK to remain in the EU than current prime minister Theresa May. Why is he taking all the criticism? [Image: Jane Barlow/PA].

Jeremy Corbyn campaigned far more effectively for the UK to remain in the EU than current prime minister Theresa May. Why is he taking all the criticism? [Image: Jane Barlow/PA].

This article could do better with its factual accuracy about Jeremy Corbyn – but it does ask a very useful question about Theresa May.

Media coverage of the EU referendum campaign was dominated by the Conservatives – and there are several possible reasons for that, starting with media bias, a lacklustre performance from Alan Johnson (who was nominally in charge of Labour’s ‘Remain’ campaign), and the fact that Mr Corbyn didn’t get a look-in until David Cameron flounced off, having worked out he was causing more problems than he was solving.

So Jeremy Corbyn – who still racked up more media appearances than anyone else in the Labour Party and convinced two-thirds of his party, and a larger percentage of his own constituency, to vote ‘Remain’ – ended up being criticised for not speaking up.


Meanwhile Theresa May – who said she supported ‘Remain’ – was in the party where the majority of voters wanted to ‘Leave’, and racked up far fewer media appearances. Far fewer.

What’s her excuse, then?

Corbyn has been lambasted by … many Labour parliamentarians and supporters for his contribution to the Remain cause. But, for some reason, the same criticism hasn’t been levelled at Tory PM Theresa May.

Like Corbyn, May’s official position was Remain. Like Corbyn, she wasn’t particularly vocal in her support for the campaign. Drawing on the CRCC’s research, you could reasonably argue she played even less of a part than the opposition leader.

May made just 29 media appearances between May 6 and June 22. That means Corbyn made over four times as many appearances. The difference isn’t marginal — it’s massive.

A possible counter-argument could be that May was not party leader at the time so wasn’t expected to be as prominent as Corbyn. But that didn’t stop Brexiteer Boris Johnson — he made 379 appearances over the same period of time. Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, and Nigel Farage all made over 120.

This isn’t to say that aggrieved Remain supporters should blame Theresa May for the result — or any individual politician for that matter. But it’s worth pointing out that the prime minister’s contribution to the Remain campaign was no better than Corbyn’s. It was virtually non-existent.

Source: Theresa May’s Remain campaigning worse than Corbyn – Business Insider


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40 thoughts on “Theresa May’s ‘Remain’ campaigning was worse than Corbyn – why is he taking the flak?

      1. Manny

        If you want to play numerical games this is really kind of nuts. If Jezza did better than May then David Cameron did (499/123) FOUR TIMES BETTER THAN CORBYN! Which is a pretty poor record if Corbyn was serious about the UK remaining within the EU Get real for goodness sake!

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        And where is David Cameron now?
        I am being real. Cameron is gone – he may have made more appearances than anyone else but had to back out because he was harming the ‘Remain’ cause. May is prime minister and was silent over the EU referendum – or as good as. Corbyn was much more vocal for ‘Remain’, and far more successful than Cameron, yet gets stick from people like you. Don’t try to justify it because you can’t. The facts are against you.

  1. Barry Davies

    It has nothing to do with the campaign, and more to do with the media wanting to decide who should be labours leader, Corbyn should not have been expected to back remain, he had been a leave supporter for a long time before the referendum was even considered, as such he actually did a better job for remain than most of the remain supporters who thought they would win without doing anything other than trying to scare the public and attempting to rubbish the truth leave was claiming.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Well, he had expressed serious doubts about the EU as currently constituted. But he campaigned for Remain because he knew the UK outside the EU with a Tory government would be a disaster, and he was right; we’re not even out yet and it’s already a nightmare.

      1. Barry Davies

        Well according to the ONS we are doing better than we were economically prior to the referendum exports up imports down unemployment down, so not really the nightmare predicted by the remain propaganda machine.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No indeed. That’s a fantastic result for a country in which the status quo has not changed one iota and which has not made a single move towards quitting the European Union.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Neither were leaders of their party’s respective ‘Remain’ campaigns, though.
      Just because Mr Corbyn was a party leader doesn’t mean he had to be in charge of this aspect.
      David Cameron chose to lead the Tory ‘Remain’ campaign because he forced the referendum on us all.
      Alan Johnson led the Labour ‘Remain’ campaign. It’s a fact that he did such a bad job that Mr Corbyn had to come in at the end and build up support.
      Mr Johnson is not a supporter of Mr Corbyn. Knowing that, why do you think he messed up the campaign so badly?

    2. Zippi

      The referendum was not a party political decision, nor was it a party political issue; it was a matter for the individual so regardless of Mr. Corbyn being a Party leader, no person was under any compulsion to follow any politician. I, for one, did my own homework, reached my own conclusions and voted according to my conscience, not because some politician (even Jeremy Corbyn) told me to.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Don’t try to slip your propaganda in here.
        The vote was simply a question of whether people wanted the UK to be in or out of the EU. Inserting democracy in as an alternative to the EU is misleading.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        But it isn’t totalitarian, which is what you imply by putting “democracy” up against it falsely.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        Perhaps I am simplifying but if you don’t have democracy, you’re living in a totalitarian society. That is what you were implying – and you know that is wrong.
        The EU is democratic. It’s just democratic in a way you don’t like.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        No, Barry, you did not write “democratically deficient”. You just wrote (and I admit I’m paraphrasing) “democratic or the EU”. Clearly you were creating a binary opposition. The opposite of democracy is totalitarianism. QED.

  2. Rose

    And the blatantly obvious answer: Corbyn campaigned ineffectively and half-heartedly as LEADER of his party and Teresa May didn’t – she didn’t become leader of the Conservatives until AFTER the referendum. There is NO comparison. I don’t know why you keep trying to draw parallels that don’t exist.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Because people like you keep making distinctions that don’t exist.
      It doesn’t matter that Mr Corbyn was Labour leader because the referendum was not a party political matter. Alan Johnson was leader of Labour’s ‘Remain’ campaign.
      Do you remember seeing him at all?
      Mr Corbyn was a ‘Remain’ supporter, as was Mrs May. He was far more visible. She is now – apparently – in charge of the process of extricating the UK from the EU, having said hardly anything about it before she was rushed into the Tory leadership.
      The question I posed is entirely valid.

  3. Pikey

    Corbyn is a dull and uninspiring orator and magnificently unpersuasive when it comes to Labour policy. He has no magnetism, energy, or passion; radiates neither competence or conviction; seem foggy and vague; is not a master of detail; has no ready wit, seems mentally sluggish and unable to think on his feet; and seeks to appeal to the heart rather than the head. He reminds me of one of the many fake gurus which rose during the hippy tide of the sixties; worshipped uncritically by their devotees, disciples and followers; viewed by outsiders with suspicion as peculiar, unwholesome, irrelevant and possibly fraudulent. By no stretch of the imagination does Jeremy Corbyn have many – any! – of the qualities and attributes associated with successful political leaders.

    I genuinely believe that Corbyn did his best to persuade the nation to remain in the EU. The trouble is, as with other things, Corbyn’s best is never good enough.

    Mediocre is as mediocre does.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Mr Corbyn did his best to persuade Labour supporters and his own constituents to remain in the EU and succeeded spectacularly well, in comparison with the other party leaders and his own ‘Remain’ team. Remember, two-thirds of Labour supporters and more than three-quarters of his constituents voted ‘Remain’.
      Your argument is not persuasive. Did you not see the end of the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday? It was quite clear that Mr Corbyn had inspired and persuaded a majority of the audience, many of whom walked up to the podium to meet him afterwards.
      Perhaps people are ready to swap wit for fact, and have realised that the qualities associated with your successful political leaders have been those of the charlatan. They want better; they’re getting it.

      1. Barry Davies

        Well the majority of leave votes came from traditional Labour areas, so it would seem that the political party are out of touch with its membership, something Smith will only exacerbate should he win. I like Corbyn as an Orator and he is very good at PMQ’s, can’t see smith coming close to that.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No, the majority of ‘Leave’ votes didn’t come from traditional Labour areas. Look at the figures – 58 per cent of Tories voted ‘Leave’, in comparison to only 37 per cent of Labour voters.
        I think you’re right about Smith because he wants to challenge democracy and force us to vote again until we give him the result he wanted.

      3. Barry Davies

        The regional returns show that the majority of leave votes came from labour controlled areas, it’s no use thinking that all leave voters are far right wingers because we are not. The media tried to fool people that was the case, because they were trying to push the remain argument, such as it was.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        That’s not the same as a majority of Labour voters voting ‘Leave’.
        You seem to have forgotten that, in the ‘first past the post’ voting system, parties can win constituencies without having an overall majority.
        So it is entirely possible that supporters of other parties, along with the minority of Labour voters who supported Leave, provided the result you mention.
        Nobody serious believes Leave didn’t have left-wing supporters.
        They were taken in by all those fake promises, the same as the rest of you.
        “£350 million a week for the NHS”? Were YOU fooled by that one?

      5. Barry Davies

        Well as the majority of the votes came from labour controlled areas rather than tory or liberal controlled areas I don’t think you can extrapolate the idea that it was not labour voters voting leave, were you taken in by the remain claim that leave said all the money saved would be used on the NHS it was given as an example of where the money being wasted on the eu could be used, were you also one of those demanding he money which is still being sent to the eu should have been used on the NHS as well as going to the eu?

      6. Mike Sivier Post author

        We know that some Labour voters certainly did vote Leave – there was a Labour Leave campaign, you know!
        But most Labour voters voted Remain. And most constituencies have a majority of people who didn’t vote for the MP.
        So your claim that a majority of Labour voters voted Leave is a crock of horse manure, as I have previously demonstrated.
        As for your comment that the claim about using £350 million a week on the NHS was just about where it could be used – that’s another crock of horse doo-doo.
        Some of us aren’t that gullible!
        I don’t think there’s any point in continuing with this conversation if you’re going to fill it with that kind of silliness!

  4. mohandeer

    As for Pikey’s comment. Many politicians deliver polished and pre scripted twaddle which is baseless in fact and content and millions across this country would no more trust their arrogant, manipulative and wholly ingenuous spoutings and would not buy a car from them let alone vote for them for fair representation. With regards this:
    ” dull and uninspiring orator and magnificently unpersuasive when it comes to Labour policy. He has no magnetism, energy, or passion; radiates neither competence or conviction; ” it must have escaped the author of these words that millions of people, many of whom were once Labour Party members when the Labour Party actually had values and a policy, have been attracted by his interesting and truly inspiring representation of the democratic, socialist party policies which Labour are supposed to stand for. His magnetism is evident by the sheer volume of people who turn out to hear what he has to say precisely because he is passionate and energetic and exudes competence and conviction. He knows exactly what he wants for all people and has shown he has honesty and integrity, the like of which can only be likened to the greats such as Wedgy Benn etc.
    Now if he were referring to the likes of certain Labour Candidates of previous elections, he’s spot on. Talk about foggy and vague and one name springs to mind and it isn’t JC.
    If we wanted witty, fast talking, arrogant smart mouthed, two faced, untrustworthy, glib charmers, with about as much integrity and conviction as some dodgy car salesmen or a cowboy builder, we have plenty of them both sides of the Westminster aisle and none of them are popular or trusted, but they sound good when talking to the mirror, at least in their own minds. The trouble is, too few people neither believe or trust them, which is why Corbyn has amassed an enormous following. Honesty and integrity are traits that can be respected, ruthless dishonesty and morally self serving corruption are not.

    1. Tim

      I seem to remember almost identical things being said about Gordon Brown when he took over from Blair. And look where that led us. The problem is that Labour cannot ever possibly win depending on convinced Labour voters alone. To win Labour must attract support from outside its own circle of natural supporters and as far as the wider public is concerned Jeremy Corbyn is failing to cut through and win their support.

      In passing I wonder if anybody could tell me what Corbyn’s greatest political achievement is to date? Most MPs can name one thing they’ve done they are proud of. Even twerps like Kilroy-Silk got pensions for war widows and smug cardigan wearing royalists like Gyles Brandryth can take credit for the marriage bill that enabled people to get married anywhere they wanted. But as far as Corbyn goes I’ve drawn a blank. He’s been an MP for about 33 years but seems to have had little or no effect on British culture or politics until his election to the leadership of the Labour party.

      What has been Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest achievement as an MP of 30 years standing? Apart from protesting futilely against this, that and the other from the backbenches and elsewhere his history seems to be entirely undistinguished and obscure.

      Here’s a chance for Corbyn fans to big him up.

      Go for it.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Unfortunately Labour has contracted its circle of natural supporters, as you put it, meaning there are at least five million ex-supporters who could be brought back into the fold. Mr Corbyn is succeeding at doing this – Labour is now the largest left-of-centre political party in Europe and that only counts people who’ve joined up. I think claims about the wider public having doubts are right-wing propaganda, to a great extent.

        Corbyn’s greatest political achievement? After September 24 it will be defeating a corrupt, undemocratic coup against him by members of his own Parliamentary party. And yes, that’s a sad admission. If those idiots hadn’t been trying to drag him down, Labour could have done some serious damage to the Conservative government over Brexit. Regarding his 30+ year record, remember he has been kept out of decision-making by hard-right members of the Labour Party who have been determined to steer the political debate in parallel with the Tories.

      2. Zippi

        To win, £abour must have values and stick to them. You can’t please all of the people. If you stand for something, people will come to you. If you stand for nothing, keep changing, like a flag in the wind, in the hope that you will attract somebody, you will fail. We should not be in the business of merely trying to get elected but for people to vote, because of what we stand for, to be the Party that does what it says on the tin, not con people with lies, only to ignore the pre-election promises, as seems to be the order of the day.

    2. Tim

      That’s worse than saying nothing, Mike. You can’t claim credit in advance, for a third party, for an event that is almost certainly not going to happen. Now that’s what I call really grasping at straws. Corbyn has got a nice bit of much needed money in for Labour and many new members for the party, but as a constituency MP his three decade long record seems strangely bereft of anything that could be considered significant in any way, shape or form.

      Which is as odd as it is disappointing.

      But as I say he has raised money and boosted Labour’s membership rolls.

      He’ll always be able to use that as currency when eventually he writes his memoirs.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Of course it isn’t worse than saying nothing. You asked for an opinion and I gave it. You reacted this way because you don’t like it. Beating the backstabbers will be an achievement, especially if it breaks their malign influence over the party. Further and greater achievements may then follow.

        I’m very much looking forward to your apology on September 24, after Mr Corbyn wins again.

  5. Ooh la Larry

    A case of never mind the quality feel the width, eh, Mike? Jezza appeared before the public more times than Mrs May but cut less ice than her anyway? Is that something you really ought to be publicising on a fanatically pro-Corbyn blog?

    Ooh la la!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Of course you are completely wrong.
      This blog isn’t fanatically pro-Corbyn, although it is fanatically pro-fact, a distinction you probably won’t recognise, considering your comment about the relative contributions to the EU debate of Mr Corbyn and Mrs May.
      For the nth time: Mr Corbyn weighed in quite late in the game and managed to persuade huge numbers of Labour supporters to vote ‘Remain’.
      Mrs May hardly figured and more Tories voted ‘Leave’.
      Get your facts straight and then your knickers might not be so tightly knotted.

  6. Barry Davies

    While I think Corbyn is a better bet than Smith as party leader, I also think that may hedged her bets she is a remain supporter but didn’t make any real effort to push there position on the referendum.

    1. Zippi

      I’m pretty sure that Mrs. May wanted to leave but publicly supported “Remain,” at least in the one outing that I witnessed.

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