Blunkett '˜fears greatly' for democratic politics

Former cabinet minister and Sheffield MP Lord Blunkett has said he 'fears greatly' for democratic politics in the UK in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union (EU).

Lord Blunkett

A Leave vote in large part driven by frustration with austerity and a desire for independence has had the result of handing the reins of power to “real austerity politicians” who will be dependent on the markets, the former home secretary said.

He warned of a wave of resentment when those who voted for Brexit discover the new government is unable to deliver what was promised during the campaign.

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He also said it was now likely the UK will “disintegrate” as a result of Scottish anger about being forced to leave the EU against their will.

Lord Blunkett denied the surge in support for withdrawal from the EU stemmed from the decision of the Labour government he was part of in 2004 to admit workers from new eastern European member-states without transitional controls.

He admitted, though, that Labour did not “yet” have an answer to the feelings of “frustration, alienation (and) fear of change” which drove many of its traditional supporters to back Brexit despite the party’s almost unanimous support for Remain.

Lord Blunkett told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve ended up with the likelihood of a far-right Conservative government in the UK, with the UK disintegrating, with resentment about the fact that those who have been in favour of Leave won’t be able to deliver the kind of things they’ve promised.

“I fear greatly for democratic politics here, as I do in many parts of the democratic world.”

The Brexit vote was driven in part by voters’ desire for “simple solutions” to the problems of globalisation and the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, he said.

“We’ve ended up with the markets creating the total meltdown in 2008, politicians being blamed for the consequent austerity, real austerity politicians now being in the driving seat in the UK, reliant on the markets which those who voted to Leave presumably were against because they believed in so-called sovereignty and the rule of Parliament,” said Lord Blunkett.

He added: “The US presidential election is bringing out the same kind of anti-establishment, anti-globalisation feelings, the desire for isolation from the world, without answers - and certainly people like (Donald) Trump and Boris Johnson don’t have answers - for how you deal with globalisation, not by withdrawing from it but by engaging directly with it and creating alliances across the world.”

Lord Blunkett acknowledged that Labour “could have made a better collective case” for Remain but said blame for the result should rest with the Conservatives, saying: “They called the damned referendum, it was all about their internal disagreements.”