Labour leadership contender Lisa Nandy has attacked Remainers in her party for not doing enough to fight for the UK’s place in the world – despite herself backing a soft-Brexit.
Nandy is trying to win over disaffected party members in the North of England by criticising the pro-Remain campaigners in the race who spent too long talking about “being in the EU” rather than the bigger picture on internationalism.
She claims that the right considers the UK as a “small nation with a proud history of punching above our weight”, while pro-EU voices in Labour failed to talk about anything other than “roaming charges”.
In a speech in London she said: “For Labour internationalism has become just about being in the EU.
“We’ve paid lip service to our proud internationalist history but without ever explaining what that meant for the future. Because we’ve been locked in a corrosive debate solely focused on Remain or Leave.
“One of the problems with the referendum was that there was no story about our place in the world. They said we were a small nation with a proud history of punching above our weight. We said we’ll cut your mobile phone roaming charges.”
However Nandy was expected to use the speech to defend freedom of movement.
“We should have been bold enough to defend free movement, and the opportunities and benefits it brings,” she explained. “I believe in free movement.”
Nandy voted to Remain in 2016 but took a Brexiteer outlook after her constituents backed Leave.
She was criticised by Remainers for failing to support a People’s Vote as well as calling for Labour MPs to back Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill at second reading in October before the election.
Her pro-Brexit positioning has won her the support of alt-right figurehead Katie Hopkins – an endorsement Nandy did not appreciate.