Kate Hoey on Brexit: Does Labour actually want to win power? If so – how?

Euro election results for Great Britain in 2019 (England, Scotland, and Wales, not Northern Ireland, where the Brexit Party did not stand)
Euro election results for Great Britain in 2019 (England, Scotland, and Wales, not Northern Ireland, where the Brexit Party did not stand)
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Since the European elections and the terrible results for the Labour Party it has been painful to witness the agony to which many Labour Leavers have been giving voice on Twitter and in private conversations.

Given the labels thrust upon them by the leading Remainers in the Labour Party – such as racist, extremist and stupid – it was surprising that any voted Labour.

Kate Hoey

Kate Hoey

But listening to Emily Thornberry, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, call for a shift in policy for a second referendum – and then to campaign for Remain – I wondered how much more are they expected to take?

In our heartlands out of London, the Brexit Party mopped up vast swathes of former Labour voters. Many chose not to vote at all in protest at voting for members of a parliament we were supposed to have been long shot of.

If we assume that Labour actually wants to get into power and enact our manifesto, how are we planning to do that?

The chances of winning a general election without those Northern and Midlands former Labour voters is unlikely.

Kate Hoey has suggested Nigel Farage be sent to negotiate with the EU along with the government team

Kate Hoey has suggested Nigel Farage be sent to negotiate with the EU along with the government team

Labour’s vote collapsing in Bolsover was not because Labour was not Remainy enough. That is why many Labour MP’s representing northern seats are fighting to stop a second referendum.

I do not fear a second referendum in the sense of Leave losing, but I fear the precedent that it would create if Remain were to be an option. We have a responsibility to defend democracy, even when we don’t like what the result throws up.

My friend Aileen Quinton, who was a Brexit Party candidate in London, told me: “I was heartened by the young people who came up to challenge us, not aggressively about where we stood – they weren’t necessarily persuaded either way about the EU itself, but they absolutely got the danger to democracy and how the real threat to their future was the idea that voting could be dismissed.”

Aileen is no hard right winger. She campaigns for victims of terrorism and lost her mother in the Enniskillen Remembrance Sunday IRA bomb in 1987.

She was like many of the Brexit Party candidates: someone who believes in democracy and believes that our future is best outside the European Union.

Calling people like Aileen racists is just one of the many offensive actions of the establishment politicians and some media.

We don’t have to celebrate the success of the Brexit Party, but we do need to acknowledge it, as well as Labour’s part in that success – and indeed in the fact of its creation.

I was wrong to trust Theresa May to deliver Brexit and I am very sceptical about what any new Tory leader would do. Too often the main parties will put party before country.

So it makes sense that the Brexit Party should be included in the negotiations with the EU going forward. Politicians should recognise that one of the appeals of that party was that it had so many candidates who were not politicians and who, as businessmen and women, were well used to making deals.

Surely winning the European Union elections merits a place at the table? That would inject both an acceptance and indeed willingness for Brexit to succeed but they would also be able to articulate areas of concern on which Leavers want reassurance, like the backstop.

That is not about watering down Brexit, but getting the best Brexit possible, for the short and long term. So let’s not go for a People’s Vote or a Tory Brexit.

Let’s go for a People’s Brexit.

Kate Hoey was born in Co Antrim, and for the last 30 years she has been Labour MP for Vauxhall in London. She has been arguably the most prominent Brexiteer on the Labour benches. This piece first appeared on the Brexit Central website