Labour’s Caroline Flint, a former Europe minister, fears the left-wing party could lose 40 or more seats to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in its working-class heartlands.
Ms Flint cited research suggesting that the Jeremy Corbyn-led party would haemorrhage support from its once-key working-class base — now surpassed in importance by middle-class students, ethnic minorities, and cosmopolitan city-dwellers — if it caves to the demands of deputy leader Tom Watson, shadow foreign secretary Hillary Benn, and other unreconstructed Remainers to back a re-run of the 2016.
“Those Labour leave voters are likely to go to the Brexit Party,” the MP warned on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“We would be losing in our heartland seats,” she added.
“If we don’t speak for the voices of the working-class Britain, what’s the point of the Labour Party?”
I said on #marr that 40 plus @UKLabour seats could be lost. To be precise polls show 48 seats lost to Brexit Party, just 4 to Libdems. Including every seat in Sunderland, Barnsley, Wolverhampton & Stoke plus rock solid Labour seats represented by @Ed_Miliband & @YvetteCooperMP
— Caroline Flint (@CarolineFlintMP) June 23, 2019
While Ms Flint, a former Minister of State for Europe in the government of the last Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, backed a Remain vote in 2016, she is unusual among parliamentary colleagues in standing by the party’s 2017 election pledge to respect the people’s vote to Leave the European Union.
Indeed, she told Marr that she “won’t be voting to revoke Article 50 [of the Lisbon Treaty]” — the legal mechanism triggered in 2017 to begin the now twice-delayed countdown to Britain’s exit from the bloc — in any circumstances.
“So that means [backing] a No Deal Brexit if that’s what has to happen?” Marr pressed.
“If that’s… where we end up, that’s where I will be,” she confirmed.
While Jeremy Corbyn was a lifelong Brexiteer prior the EU referendum — and regarded as a reluctant and even subversive Remain supporter by true EU loyalists such as Peter Mandelson — he has been increasingly under pressure to go all in on a second referendum from much of his parliamentary party.
Europhile MPs apparently believe that the proper response to the rise of the Brexit Party and the revival of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats — who absorbed much of the Hard Remain vote at the expense of the Labour Party, which has adopted a curious stance of appearing to frustrate the Brexit at every turn without repudiating outright — is to simply cut Leave voters loose and try to grab hold of as much of the Remain minority as possible.
“[L]et’s say it clearly, let the party that I joined at 17 years of age say it loud and clear: we want a People’s Vote,” declared the aforementioned Hillary Benn at an anti-Brexit rally on Saturday — “People’s Vote” being the preferred nomenclature for a second referendum to nullify the people’s previous vote to Leave the EU.
“I don’t mean this in an ignorant way, [but] people don’t know what they voted for [in 2016],” agreed former footballer Peter Reid, with whom Benn — son of the late Labour eurosceptic Tony Benn — shared the stage.
WATCH | Labour legend Tony Benn always knew what an undemocratic scam the European project was. Cowardly Corbyn is betraying his legacy! pic.twitter.com/Y4ju59s9Zd
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) November 7, 2017