Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery has warned figures both within and without the party against “sneering at ordinary people” who support Brexit, in the wake of highly damaging European Parliament election results.
Labour and its hard-left leader Jeremy Corbyn — a lifelong Brexiteer prior to his elevation to the party leadership — officially endorsed remaining in the European Union ahead of the 2016 referendum, but fully committed to delivering the people’s vote for Brexit in its manifesto for the 2017 snap election which followed the vote to Leave.
However, the bulk of its MPs have worked steadily to reverse this position ever since, and much of its largely cosmopolitan, upper middle-class parliamentary leadership are now pushing openly for a so-called “confirmatory public vote” with Remain on the ballot.
Corbyn appears to have finally abandoned any pretence that Labour will deliver the people's vote to leave the EU in 2016, issuing a statement that #Brexit will "have to go back to the people" in a general election or public vote. https://t.co/Y329zHOrfA
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 26, 2019
“As someone who has opposed a so-called public vote” — Labour’s current preferred term for a second referendum — “not least because parliament has no majority for it in principle and nobody has the faintest idea what we would actually put on the ballot, I have been doggedly attacked by certain sections of the party, as well as those on the outside,” Lavery revealed in an article for the Guardian.
“It does feel that a certain portion of ‘leftwing intellectuals’ are sneering at ordinary people and piling on those trying to convey the feelings of hundreds of thousands of [Leave-voting] Labour voters,” he added.
Very disappointing result in Rotherham, it would be ridiculous if the view we took from this election was that Labour should become more pro-remain.
If we move that way then we can guarantee the loss of many seats across the country at any future election. https://t.co/FmAqZchCMH
— Kevin Barron MP (@KevinBarronMP) May 26, 2019
Lavery lamented that Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit meant it “lost voters in all directions” in the EU elections, with the left-liberal middle classes defecting to the Liberal Democrats and their crass “Bollocks to Brexit” platform, and the party’s traditional working-class base in the heartlands beyond London defecting to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
Lavery, himself a former colliery worker from England’s north-east, warned that Labour “cannot win a general election by simply fighting for the biggest share of 48 per cent [of people who voted Remain in 2016]” — a coded warning against the London-based party elite’s apparent determination to go all in on an anti-Brexit platform in the wake of the EU elections.
“So, to anyone who thinks no deal would be a disaster, particularly under a Tory government, stop the sneering attacks on those who want to see democracy respected.”
Remember tonight, tomorrow and everyday after is that @UKLabour is not a Party for 52% or 48%. We’re a Party to bring people together not divide them more. A pro Second Referendum message is toxic to many heartland Labour voters. Time to start listening. #EUelections2019
— Caroline Flint (@CarolineFlintMP) May 26, 2019