Below is the full text of the letter to Jeremy Corbyn signed by 26 Labour MPs. It rejects the idea of another referendum and urges the party to back a Brexit deal.
We write to you and the Shadow Cabinet in the aftermath of the local elections, the European elections and the Peterborough by-election.
In 2017, Labour MPs were elected representing both strongly Leave-voting and strongly Remain-voting constituencies. Our Party campaigned on a pledge to respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum and negotiate Brexit. We still believe only this stance gives us the credibility to speak for the whole nation, not the 48% or the 52%.
Our Party was devastated in the local elections in longstanding Labour-held councils. The strength of the Brexit Party in Labour heartland areas in the European elections revealed a much more potent threat than either the Liberals or Greens present.
The Peterborough by-election result, with Labour’s vote share down 17%, and the Brexit Party coming so close, gives a stark warning of what could happen in Tory-Labour marginals, the majority of which are Leave seats. Labour’s briefing note to Peterborough canvassers sought to assure voters that Brexit will not be stopped. In relation to the Brexit Party candidate it said: “Once Brest has happened, he won’t have any of the answers…” We agree. But we also agree that Brexit must happen. The UK must leave, and do so without further undue delay.
A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our Party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands.
Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left.
Rejecting any Brexit in the hope of securing a perfect deal risks the worst outcome – a No Deal Brexit. This would further alienate many who backed Labour in 2017.
We urge the Party to put the national interest first, to back a deal before 31 October.
Sir Kevin Barron
Gloria de Piero
Emma Lewell Buck