Labour leadership contender Keir Starmer would not rule out campaigning for the UK to rejoin the EU in the future.
Sir Keir, the front-runner to take over from socialist Jeremy Corbyn, was the only candidate during hustings in Dudley to fail to rule out campaigning to reverse Brexit.
“I don’t think it’s a priority for now and the immediate future,” the anti-Brexit centrist said in the Mirror-hosted hustings on Sunday. He added: “It’s for our kids to decide what our future relationship is.”
The Sadiq Khan-endorsed candidate has changed his position, having previously said: “I don’t think there’s really any question of rejoining the EU. We’ve just left the EU. The leave-remain debate is over. The divide is over and we need to let it go. All of us, whichever way we voted.”
Sir Keir did not perform well with Labour Brexit voters in a poll in January where only 17 per cent of Labour Leavers ranked him first, compared with 43 per cent of Remainers.
Labour Leadership Candidate Long-Bailey Says Idea That Britons Rejected Socialism is ‘Bollocks’ https://t.co/lhQMkMogJU
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The remarks were made in response to fellow candidate and Corbyn acolyte Rebecca Long-Bailey who asked Starmer and Lisa Nandy: “Our Brexit policy clearly impacted our election performance, do you agree we should rule out campaigning in the 2024 election to rejoin the EU?”
Long-Bailey rejected campaigning for re-entry, as did Nandy who said: “I’d rule it out. We haven’t got the option, we’ve lost that right because we didn’t take the deal that ticked every box that we had about protecting close economic and political cooperation. We refused to do it.”
However, it’s not unheard of for Labour to signal one policy that it later reverses — as the contrast in Mr Starmer’s remarks reveals — so it is not beyond possibility that Long-Bailey and Nandy could shift their position on EU membership. The Labour Party had campaigned in the 2017 election on respecting the referendum result, in an effort to maintain the support of their working-class base, only to reverse their decision and back campaigning for a second referendum in their 2019 manifesto.
Labour Leavers proved key in last year’s election, with the Red Wall falling in the north as working-class Labour voters switched their allegiances to the Brexit Party and the Conservatives over Corbyn’s betrayal of Brexit.
Hard remainer Jess Phillips had pulled out of the race two weeks after announcing she would “fight” for the UK to rejoin the EU and after failing to win endorsements from labour unions and a poor hustings performance.
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While Nandy and Long-Bailey have sought to project Brexit acceptance, they have revealed the extent of their progressive convictions in recent hustings, particularly with regards to transgenderism.
Long-Bailey, who said that Labour needs a “proud socialist leader”, signed a pledge last month to back Labour expelling those from its membership who have alleged “transphobic” opinions and backs transsexuals being allowed into women-only spaces, such as changing rooms.
Lisa Nandy has also stated she believes transsexuals should be able to “self-identify” their preferred gender without a legal certificate and for men to be allowed into women’s prisons if they identify as female.
Nandy had also declared in a debate last month that while she would vote to abolish the Monarchy, she would “quite like to see Queen Meghan at some point”. Nandy is not alone amongst Labour supporters in seeking a British republic. A recent poll revealed that more than half (53 per cent) of Labour voters back abolishing the Monarchy, in contrast to the 63 per cent of the British public overall who support the British Royal Family.
The survey also revealed that just 36 per cent of Labour supporters blamed Corbyn for the party’s historic election loss in December and 78 per cent said that the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party was either exaggerated or non-existent, the results signalling the far-left shift of the party under the outgoing socialist leader.
Nearly Half of Labour Party Members ‘Ashamed’ of British History, 53 Per Cent Back Abolishing Monarchy https://t.co/WmZavweBab
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 9, 2020