Labour members including Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett call on party to apologise over Brexit to win back heartlands

A band of Labour members in the North have called on the party to issue a “full-throated apology” for its handling of Brexit to help to win back former heartlands at the next General Election.
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett. Picture: Tony Johnson.Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, Wansbeck member Ian Lavery MP and former Crewe and Nantwich representative Laura Smith last night published their No Holding Back report.

It reads: “Leave voters were too often sneered at and remain voters were led up the garden path with a position – of overturning the referendum result – that was never seriously achievable.

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"By doing both some senior members of our Party polarised the electorate, with some even suggesting that Labour was remain or it was nothing. To put this aside, leavers and remainers need an apology.”

The members held a launch event for the report on social media last night.

Among many recommendations, the report calls for: “banishing austerity to history’s dustbin” by supporting a wealth tax to pay for the Covid-19 crisis; strengthening trade union links and workers’ rights; and implementing working class quotas to increase the number of people from such backgrounds in Parliament and the party to help combat a perception of “career politicians”.

The report says that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “should not bury under the carpet his role in Brexit. It will come back to bite him and Labour”.

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It goes on: “Sir Keir has a big task ahead of him... Brexit voters in our former heartlands still do not trust the Party that took their votes for granted. Although it was a long time coming, we think that the first step in trying to win back trust is for the Party to apologise.

"Ultimately, we put liberalism above democracy and that cannot be allowed to happen again.”

The intervention comes after a host of traditionally working class Northern constituencies voted for Tory candidates in the General Election last December.

The report has been developed following an “extensive listening exercise” among Labour Party members, trade unionists and members of the public. More than 2,000 people had their say at 30 digital events across the country, and “this report gives voice to those we spoke to,” say the MPs.

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“Their message is clear: the party must rebuild at its grassroots,” said Mr Trickett yesterday.

Mr Lavery said the report explores “how we can reconnect with the working class communities so we are much better placed to win the election in 2024”, adding: “We can only win the election by a coalition of votes and voters right across the UK.”

A first report, Northern Discomfort, was compiled in the summer of 2019, predicting Labour’s losses in its “former heartlands”, with Brexit exacerbating tensions in such communities.

The group said had warned the Shadow Cabinet that Labour was heading for electoral disaster and in September that year provided a list of 50 Labour seats which were in danger of being lost.

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Various former Labour seats in Yorkshire were swept up by Conservatives, with attitudes to Brexit considered an important factor in many. Labour losses included constituencies such as the Don Valley, which Nick Fletcher MP won from Caroline Flint, and the nearby Rother Valley, which was taken by Alexander Stafford MP.

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.