Labour MPs have said that the party needs clearer answers on Brexit if it is to regain lost ground in areas that voted leave.
MPs from across the party reacted with frustration after Labour slipped to fourth place in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election, the second time in a week it has lost ground.
Labour were only 471 votes ahead of the Lincolnshire Independents last night.
Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said that Labour had been harmed on the doorstep by the confusion over its stance on Brexit. “When people are putting a cross in a box, clarity is everything” she said, adding “Labour needs to have a very clear position and for everybody to be saying the same thing and at the moment that is not the case,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.
David Winnick, a veteran backbencher, has described Labour’s performance in the Sleaford by-election as “appalling”, saying that: “If we were to continue in this way then the indications are 2020 will be an electoral disaster”.
Vernon Coaker a former shadow cabinet minister said discussions with voters had been dominated by Brexit.
“It was a difficult seat. Let’s remember this is a safe Tory seat, UKIP came here expecting to do much better than they did so it’s a bad result for them.”
Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke North, said on twitter that the “Sleaford result does no justice to the hard work of Jim Clarke and Vernon Coaker. The local party ran a great, hard fought campaign.”
David Prescott, adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, highlighted the fact that the UKIP vote share also went down in the by-election, with 2.2 per cent less support than 2015.
Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, was one of many people who noted that the winning Conservative candidate was not keen to speak to the media after her victory and was soon whisked away from the count. Johnson said on twitter: “She does seem particularly reluctant to speak to the media? Wonder why?”