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Analysis

Labour MPs in ‘Leave seats’ needn’t fear People’s Vote

by Luke Lythgoe | 05.11.2018

The public wants a People’s Vote in all 259 Labour-held seats, according to a new polling study for the People’s Vote campaign. What’s more, Labour voters in those seats back a People’s Vote by an even bigger margin.

This is important information for three groups of Labour MPs in very different positions over Brexit: those who have so far felt backing a People’s Vote would ignore their Leave-voting constituents’ wishes; those in “Leave seats” who already support a People’s Vote; and those in Remain-voting seats who haven’t backed a People’s Vote yet.

The term “Leave seats” is today misleading, since there has been considerable shift against Brexit in the last two and a half years. In fact, the same massive YouGov study shows 65 Labour seats have moved from voting Leave in 2016 to supporting staying in the EU now.

There has been a groundswell of popular support for a People’s Vote recently. This is shown not just in polling, but at the 700,000-person march in London and grassroots activism across the country. Several Labour MPs in Leave seats have responded to this recently by publicly coming out in support of the idea, including Rachel Reeves (Leeds West, where 62% back a People’s Vote), Mary Creagh (Wakefield, 55%) and Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley, 63%). Phillips’s and Reeves’s seats are two that have now switched to supporting staying in the EU.

Other MPs, like Pat McFadden, are moving ever closer to backing a People’s Vote. He called the recent findings “important”, and promised to “keep listening to voters on this issue because this is such a huge issue for the country and it’s vital that the people’s voice is heard.” His Wolverhampton South East seat voted 68% for Leave in 2016. That Brexit support has now dropped to 57%. But most interestingly, 58% of McFadden’s constituents want a People’s Vote.

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Others in a similar position to McFadden include: Gloria de Piero (Ashfield, where 53% support for a People’s Vote), John Mann (Bassetlaw, 56%) and Toby Perkins (Chesterfield, 57%).

But many Labour MPs in Leave seats have been full-blooded in their support for a People’s Vote for months now. These include: Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower), Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South), Conor McGinn (St Helens North), Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton & Sunderland South), Gavin Shuker (Luton South), Angela Smith (Penistone & Stockbridge), Wes Streeting (Ilford North), Anna Turley (Redcar), Paul Williams (Stockton South) and Phil Wilson (Sedgfield).

Each of these MPs has recognised that the Brexit unfolding – whether the chaotic “no deal” pushed by hard Brexiters or miserable rule-taking pursued by Theresa May – will be bad for their constituents’ prosperity, opportunity, jobs and rights.

In a category of his own is Roger Godsiff, a Leave-voting Labour MP in Remain-backing Birmingham Hall Green, who has said that, although his own views haven’t changed, he has “no problem whatsoever supporting the idea of any final deal being put back to the people”.

Then there are Labour MPs in Remain-voting seats – in particular, those on Labour’s front bench who haven’t yet supported a People’s Vote. John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington, where 62% back a People’s Vote), Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington, 73%), Keir Starmer (Holborn & St Pancras, 70%) and Barry Gardiner (Brent North, 63%). But the Labour constituency with the highest support for a People’s Vote? Islington North – Jeremy Corbyn’s seat, at 74%.

It is time for Labour politicians across the country to recognise that a People’s Vote isn’t just a logical and democratic way to avert the government’s destructive, miserable Brexit. It is also popular with the bulk of their supporters and will put them in good stead for electoral challenges in the future.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: , , Categories: UK Politics

2 Responses to “Labour MPs in ‘Leave seats’ needn’t fear People’s Vote”

  • I have just watched the Channel 4 debate and Labour’s answer to David Davis was on the panel, Barry Gardiner. What an absolute waste of time he was. A parody of Davis, holding his spectacles in one hand and pontificating with the other, but speaking a load of guff, waffle and fudge. The Labour Party lacks boldness, clarity and is timid on this issue.No wonder May is getting such an easy ride from Corbyn in PMQs. I have voted Labour for 50 years, but no more. Despite all the evidence and the warnings of Brown and Blair, they still won’t commit to a People’s Vote. Caroline Lucas, on the other hand, spoke with great clarity and put the case for a PV very well. Wish she was my MP.

  • I watched the same programme Mr Taylor watched and it seemed that Barry Gardner looked genuinely surprised at the result that 54 per cent of the people polled would now vote to remain. Labour is not covering itself with glory on this issue, and the time to step up and wrest the issue from the malevolent Tory collection of liars and chancers is up on us.

    Backbones are now required in the Labour Party.