Keir Starmer says he does not care whether people “badge” him as a Blairite or a Corbynista in the Labour leadership contest – describing both as “historical figures”.
The race favourite was told that the public was “unclear” whether he is “a centrist or a left winger”, but insisted what matters is his ability to bring all parts of the party together.
“I’m often challenged, are you a Blairite, a Corbynista,” Sir Keir acknowledged, reflecting suspicions on both wings of the party about the direction he would pursue.
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But he added: “I don’t need someone else’s name tattooed on my head to make a decision or hug a historical figure.
Pressed again if he was “on the left or the right of the party”, the shadow Brexit secretary added: “What I want is what matters. Now, where other people badge that doesn’t particularly concern me.”
And he said: “I can think for myself, I don’t need to hug Jeremy Corbyn, I don’t need to hug Tony Blair or anybody else to make a decision.”
Speaking to Sky News Ridge on Sunday programme, Sir Keir also:
* Criticised Mr Corbyn’s refusal to say Labour would definitely back Remain in a second Brexit referendum, arguing he warned the party would “look indecisive” in the election campaign.
* Refused to say if he would ever back a second Scottish independence referendum, saying only the position should be decided “in agreement with Scottish Labour”.
* Attacked the “vilification” of Labour’s leader by sections of the media, adding – without explaining what he meant – “We do need to address this.”
* Declined to say if Mr Corbyn would have a place in his shadow cabinet, saying: “I am not going to be presumptuous.”