The first paragraph of Labour’s 2017 manifesto states: “Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to parliament throughout negotiations.” This is the pledge that every Labour MP stood on at the last election.
Unlike the Liberal Democrats or the Greens, Labour candidates pledged not to reverse Brexit and now is not the time to break our promise to the British people. Nick Clegg made this mistake in 2010 with tuition fees and where is he today? His party was annihilated at the following election and a generation of voters lost trust in the Lib Dems. The Labour Party cannot afford to make the same mistake.
My voters in Bassetlaw have given me two clear messages at the ballot box on Brexit. The first was at the referendum in 2016 where 70% voted to leave the European Union. This is why I voted to trigger Article 50 nearly two years ago and have not made any attempt to block Brexit in parliament. The second message was when I was re-elected at the 2017 general election when I, like the majority of Labour MPs, promised that I would vote to deliver Brexit and I stand by this pledge.
The Labour position is as clear as mud. In the event of a second referendum, will Labour propose an alternative deal or will they campaign to remain in the EU? When will there be serious engagement with people living in the North and in the Midlands who vote Labour but also voted for Brexit? For far too long, traditional Labour voters have been ignored by the party. My voters are fed up with being patronised by a London-dominated, metropolitan elite within the Labour Party who seem to think they know best for what they want and why they voted to leave the EU.
Two thirds of Labour-held seats voted to leave the EU and this must not be ignored in an attempt to reverse Brexit. Instead of trying to reverse the referendum result under the disguise of a ‘People’s Vote’, I suggest the Labour leadership and my colleagues come to areas like Bassetlaw that voted to leave and listen to the constituents that voted for Brexit but also want a Labour government. The choice facing us all is either to deliver Brexit as we promised or to vote for a second referendum. At least the muddy water between these two decisions has now cleared. Every Labour MP will have a straightforward choice to make when the second meaningful vote is held next month.