Senior Labour MPs leading their party’s campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU) have warned fellow party members and supporters on the left that the referendum could be lost unless their case is backed with more passion.
A chief concern, expressed by Members of Parliament (MPs) like of Alan Johnson and Chuka Umunna, is that the Remain referendum campaign is being overshadowed by talk of ‘Blue on Blue’ Tory infighting, as reported by Breitbart London, meaning Labour’s more united pro-EU stance is lost.
According to The Observer, moderate Labour supporters of the EU are also concerned that their more stridently left-wing colleagues — including leaders of the union movement and grassroots organisations such as the Jeremy Corbyn-backing Momentum — are not yet committed to backing continued membership of the EU.
Alan Johnson MP said Labour supporters must now put “boots on the ground” to persuade working people that EU membership is crucial to their lives and prospects. Ignoring the likes of fellow Labour MPs Gisela Stuart, Frank Field and Kate Hoey, he said:
“The Tories are split on Europe; Labour is united. We have to make the case to members and get the vote out. It is particularly important for trade unions to be active participants, ensuring a bottom-up campaign focusing on the adverse effects that turning our backs on our continent will have on working people. There is no progressive case for leaving the EU, and we need to translate our unity into a victory for Labour values on 23 June.”
Chuka Umunna MP, a former shadow business secretary who now heads the Labour campaign in London, said the referendum was “losable” if Labour fails to make its case for continued membership. In comments aimed at those who are only lukewarm in their support for his efforts, he resorted to what have become known as ‘Project Fear’ tactics, saying:
“My message to the left is, if you don’t support this full throttle, you will be gifting a big victory to the dog-whistle politics of Nigel Farage which, if successful, will unleash a wave of nasty nationalism across our country. The EU is not perfect and must be reformed, but now is not the time for us to sit on our hands; now is the time for us to fight for the politics of solidarity and collaboration, which is core to our Labour values and beliefs.”
Meanwhile, in a sign that he is perhaps beginning to address concerns that he is yet to engage with the Remain campaign, Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has been accused of “rewriting history” after deleting a number of pieces critical of the EU from his website, along with hundreds of other outspoken articles and speeches.
The Telegraph reports none of the anti-EU articles can be accessed from his personal website, including one described as “a damning attack about the influence the bloc has over the British Government”. In one article he wrote:
“There is a strong socialist argument against the Lisbon Treaty and the economic consequences that flow from it.
“What is also explicit in both the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty is the imposition of a market economy on Europe, a control on borrowing made by any member states’ government and serious control on the political choices open to any one member state.
“Thus, the British government had to explain to the European Union why it proposed to take Northern Rock into public ownership, for how long it intended that to be the case and give assurances about the bank’s future.”
One senior Labour MP, recognising private concerns from colleagues that Mr. Corbyn is losing Labour support for the EU, said:
“Jeremy’s problem is that he tells the truth all the time, that gets him into trouble with the party in general, but it also makes it easy to tell when he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, that’s where he is with Europe.
“He is anti-EU, he hates the free market, and he is struggling to hide that.”