Starmer must do more than offer to tinker with Johnson’s flawed Brexit deal | LabourList

“Just as opinion polls show that a large majority now consider Brexit to have been a mistake (53% to 35% according to a YouGov survey), the Labour leadership seems to have concluded that now is the time to distance the party from any criticism of it.

In backing not just Brexit, but a hard Brexit (outside of the European single market and customs union) – something practically the whole Labour Party previously argued vigorously against – Keir Starmer is doing a disservice to the national interest and, at the same time, risks alienating voters that Labour needs to win a general election. It also does him no favours in terms of being seen to be a man of principle, unafraid to speak up for what is right.

Starmer seems to have forgotten that, already at the time of the 2019 general election, Labour haemorrhaged more support to the parties seen as being vigorous in their opposition to Brexit (the Greens, the SNP, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru) than it did to the Conservatives. Even in the so-called ‘Red Wall’, Labour lost nearly a dozen seats to the Tories by a smaller margin than the number of votes lost to such parties. I was at the January 2020 national executive committee meeting that pored over the results, and this was apparent for all to see.

Yes, there is an ongoing concern about not alienating those Labour voters who voted Leave in the referendum. At the time of the referendum, they totalled some 29% of Labour voters (again, according to YouGov). But many of them no longer believe that Brexit was a good decision. Others would not desert Labour just on that one issue. And quite a few would welcome at least a return to participating in the single market and attenuating the multiple problems that have arisen due to Brexit. By bending over backwards to placate a dwindling number of Brexiteers, Labour risks losing far more support among the majority of voters who do not think Brexit is going well.”

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