After Labour backed a second referendum in its party manifesto, Sir Keir has been ordered to address the party’s previous Brexit stance in order to rebuild trust from ‘red wall’ voters. Laura Smith, former Shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, former Council President and former Chairman of the party, Ian Lavery, insisted the new leader cannot “bury this under the carpet”. In a report called ‘No Holding Back’, the three claimed building trust within the party across the country will be crucial in challenging the Tories.
Due to his position as Brexit Secretary under Mr Corbyn, they insisted the party’s policy on the UK’s exit from the EU cost them a number of seats in the north and Midlands.
In the report, they said: “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.
“To put this aside, Leavers and Remainers need an apology.”
Despite being in the Shadow Cabinet, both Mr Trickett and Ms Smith had voiced concerns over the party’s election strategy towards its historical base prior to the report.
Under Mr Corbyn, Labour adopted a position where the party would campaign for a second Brexit referendum if it won the 2019 general election.
Due to that, the party suffered its worst election defeat in 84 years as the Tories took critical seats in the north and Midlands.
Writing for the Huffington Post, they said: “We do not believe that the party can move on until it has put this issue behind us.
“For those who will say that the matter is behind us and we should move on, we say it will not do to whitewash or to ignore the recent past.
“It must be a settling of accounts with Leavers, of course – but also with the Remainers, some of whom were falsely led to believe that we might be able to Remain.
“And we must apologise to our activists who often had very difficult encounters on the doorsteps.”
They also claimed the party has now lost touch with its historical working-class base and had concentrated on London and the south.
In the wake of the election, Sir Keir was elected as the party leader and removed several of Mr Corbyn’s allies from key positions.
Indeed, the former leader of the party, Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party after claiming the findings from a report into Anti-Semitism in the party had been overstated.
Both Mr Lavery and Mr Trickett were removed from the frontbench following the leadership election.
Ms Smith had been the MP for Crewe and Nantwich before losing her seat in the 2019 election.
Rebecca Long-Bailey was also removed from her position in the Cabinet, while MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome was removed from her position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jonathan Ashworth, after going against the party on the Overseas Operations Bill.
Despite their claims over how the party must address its leadership and Brexit stance, Sir Keir’s leadership has caused the party to rise in the polls.
As per YouGov’s polling data from November 4-5, the party now stands at 40 percent while the Tories are on 35.
In contrast, on January 26, the Tories were tracking at 49 percent while Labour was registered at 29.