Labour’s latest fudge over Brexit has been described as ‘mealey-mouthed’ by People’s Vote campaigners, while one MP admitted that Remainers are now unlikely to vote for the party.
MP Jess Phillips has created controversy with party campaigners on social media after she told ITV News’ Acting Prime Minister podcast that Labour will get a ‘drubbing in the European elections’.
She said: ‘I think people who voted Remain and voted Labour will not vote Labour again.
‘I do think we’ll get a drubbing in the European elections. All the main parties are going to get a drubbing in the European elections.’
The pro-Brexit manifesto has been described as the ‘bare minimum’ by the official People’s Vote campaign.
Bridget Phillipson, the Labour MP for Houghton & Sunderland South, said: ‘Labour has done the bare minimum needed and I can only hope it will be enough to secure the support of all those millions of our voters demanding the final say on Brexit.
‘There is no deal on the table other than the one negotiated by the government and there is no majority for it in parliament without a confirmatory referendum to show there is a majority for it the country too.
‘The decision of the NEC today reaffirms conference policy and means Labour will have little choice except to back a new public vote on the most likely outcome of this vexed process.
‘That’s because more and more of us are recognising it would be unfair to force this deal on the British people now that we know so much more about Brexit.
‘But the manifesto’s mealy-mouthed wording still maintains the fiction that there is a deal out there that can satisfy all the promises made three years ago, avoid real costs to jobs and living standards, or end the endless crisis around Brexit.
‘This means Labour risks demoralising activists, depressing turnout among supporters and decreasing the share of the vote for candidates who – like the overwhelming majority of our party – are fighting for a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal.’
David Lammy, a Labour MP and People’s Vote champion, said: ‘We should be going so much further than this. Labour or Tory, no form of Brexit can satisfy the impossible fantasy promised in 2016. Therefore any Brexit deal should be subject to a confirmatory vote with the option to Remain.’
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: ‘It is now beyond doubt that a People’s Vote is the only way out of this Brexit mess, but all Labour has managed today is a people’s fudge.
‘What we needed was clarity. What we’ve got is deliberate confusion. The only thing that is obvious is Labour’s desire for a licence to deliver Brexit without a fresh referendum.’
Scottish National Party Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: ‘Labour’s failure to unequivocally put the issue of EU membership back to the people in a referendum means they are conspiring in the Tory-led Brexit shambles.
‘Jeremy Corbyn today had an opportunity to help bring an EU referendum closer, but instead he has chosen to continue his complicity in the Tories’ plan to remove us from the EU.’
Change UK’s Chuka Ummuna tweeted: ‘If you usually vote Labour, but are disillusioned with the leadership’s prevarication on Brexit, don’t endorse it. Lend Change UK your vote in the European elections for a party that will stand unequivocally for a People’s Vote and remaining a member of the EU.’
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato tweeted: ‘Devastating news. The leadership has prevailed and blocked unequivocal support for #PeoplesVote. @UKLabour are not a Remain party. Anybody who votes Labour in #EUelections2019 may have their vote used to facilitate Brexit.’
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Confirmation, if it was needed, that Labour is a Brexit supporting party. Problem is a Labour Brexit, just like a Tory Brexit, will hurt Scotland. So if you want to keep Scotland in Europe, and make sure that our voice is heard, vote @theSNP on 23 May.’
Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson said: ‘Labour still can’t get their act together, still refusing to support a #PeoplesVote unequivocally. Same old fudge.’
TNE editor Matt Kelly tweeted: ‘How is it possible to be disappointed when something you absolutely knew was never going to happen didn’t happen? Well I am.’
Some cautiously welcomed news that Labour would be promoting a People’s Vote in the elections, after initial drafts of election leaflets omitted reference to a public vote.
Interim CEO of Best for Britain Naomi Smith said: ‘The Labour Party have stood firm on their Brexit policy passed at conference which supports putting Brexit back to the people as an option. The Party has come a long way on this issue, twice whipping in favour of the Kyle-Wilson proposal in the Commons in recent weeks.
‘The strength of feeling amongst the party is undeniable. In recent weeks almost 16,000 messages calling for an unambiguous commitment to a public vote in Labour’s European manifesto were sent to the NEC by Best for Britain supporters who are Labour members and voters.
‘With so many pro-European candidates standing in these elections across several parties, it’s encouraging that candidates who back keeping our EU membership at the top of Labour’s lists will be able to stand on a platform of going back to the people on Brexit. Those candidates will be able to represent the views of the majority of Labour Party members and voters, and the majority of the British public, who now want the final say in any scenario.’
Labour MP Wes Streeting said: ‘Glad the NEC has made the right call and confirmed that a public vote will be in our manifesto for the European elections. We’re a Party for remain and it’s right that everyone – leavers and remainers – should be given the #finalsay on our Brexit future.’