Friday 24 January 2020

Brexit weakness cost Labour, Starmer admits

Britain's opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Britain's opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer. Photo: REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Sophie Morris in London

British Labour leadership favourite and shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer admits his party "should have taken a stronger position one way or the other" on Brexit.

Mr Starmer said voters had wanted "clarity" on the issue, which the Labour Party did not provide, and that not enough was done by the party to "knock down" the Tories' 'Get Brexit Done' message.

He added that, if he was to become Labour's new leader, he would deliver the "fundamental change" needed.

Mr Starmer hopes his leadership chances will not be hampered because he backed another referendum, which some critics have accused of playing a role in Labour's disastrous election.

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"We are leaving the EU in two to three weeks' time and that divide between Leave and Remain goes when we leave the EU," he said.

"The next Labour leader needs to unite the Labour Party, provide really effective opposition to Boris Johnson and needs to be pulling together a strategy so that we can win in 2024.

"That's what the next Labour needs to do, and that is what I'm determined to do on behalf of the Labour Party. Not on my own, but as part of a team. We need people alongside me doing this."

Meanwhile, he blamed the Labour defeat on four main reasons which cumulatively caused the party to "lose the public's trust".

Speaking on Sky, he said: "The issues, there were many of them, but they were the leadership, rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, was coming up everywhere.

"The Brexit position and whether we were persuading people, more importantly, whether we were knocking down the Tories claim that they would get Brexit done.

"Anti-Semitism came up as a question of values and competence, and there was a general feeling that the manifesto was overloaded."

Irish Independent

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