Saturday 21 January 2017

Labour MP says he might punch Ed Miliband 'because he's a tosspot'

Sam Lister, Joe Churcher and Arj Singh, Press Association Political Staff

Published 24/06/2016 | 03:10

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband

A senior Labour MP suggested he might punch "tosspot" Ed Miliband over the state he has left the party in.

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Chris Bryant hit out when the former Labour leader appeared on the big screen television at the Stronger In referendum party, where he was being interviewed live.

Talking to guests at the event, the shadow Commons leader made clear his views about the Doncaster North MP.

He said: "I might go and punch him because he's a tosspot and he left the party in the state it's in."

The comments underline the bitter divisions that continue to divide the party.

As polls closed, calls for Jeremy Corbyn to step down appeared to resurface but Mr Miliband gave his successor his backing.

The Labour leadership crisis which has dogged Mr Corbyn since his unprecedented win last summer was largely put on hold during the campaign.

He has faced criticism for not being enthusiastic or visible enough during Labour's In campaign although Mr Miliband suggested his stance chimed with the "reluctant Remain" view of the British people.

But as the last votes were cast, Labour former minister Ian Lucas warned the party needs a "big change in its approach".

He tweeted: "Very pleased Referendum campaign over. Whatever the result, Labour needs a big change in its approach."

Labour former minister Kate Hoey, who has joined Tories Boris Johnson and Michael Gove on the Leave campaign trail in recent weeks, claimed her party has permanently lost voters as a result of Labour's pro-EU stance.

She told Sky News: "We will find thousands and thousands of Labour supporters abandoning the Labour view on this because we've known for a long time, being out there, that Labour supporters, the Labour Party view on this, is out of step with Labour supporters and ex-Labour supporters, who I'm afraid we'll probably find will not come back to us after the way the leadership have fought this campaign of staying in."

She said Labour supporters are "fed up of being told they're ignorant, they're racist" when raising concerns about the impact of immigration.

Long-term critic Jamie Reed tweeted: "No doubt, tonight, whatever the result, the Labour Party has to change fundamentally."

Mr Miliband, who has been the subject of consistent speculation that he may join Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet, told ITV News: "This has been a very Tory campaign in a number of senses.

"Essentially we've seen the sort of Tory Party nervous breakdown that has been gathering steam for 30 years played out over the last three months in a very extreme way and that has inevitably got the attention.

"Jeremy has obviously had a degree of ambivalence but is for Remain.

"I think actually in that sense he's quite close to centre of gravity of the British people.

"If it is Remain I think it will be reluctant Remain and I think in that sense he sort of speaks to at least a bit of where people are on this."

Asked about Mr Bryant's comments, Emma Reynolds, Labour former shadow communities secretary, said: "People are very nervous about what might happen tonight. It's going to be a close result.

"I don't know why Chris might have said that. Everybody who is a Labour MP who has been asked to do an interview has every right to go on and give their own view."

Ms Reynolds said that in the early weeks of the campaign Labour "didn't do enough tell people what our position was".

"But we did step it up in the last few weeks," she added.

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