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Labour MP says party could ‘shift leadership’ for more pro-EU leader in several years’ time

Labour MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, previously in the House of Commons - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Labour could dump Sir Keir Starmer in favour of a leader keen to rejoin the EU, a former frontbencher has warned.

Former Labour whip Rosie Duffield said a majority of party MPs were “desperate to rejoin the EU at heart”.

Speaking on HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast, Duffield – who was forced to resign in May for breaking Covid rules – said Labour MPs who voted for Boris Johnson’s deal done so “with a very heavy heart”.

She said they would eventually “try and shift the leadership” of the party but conceded they must first “let the dust settle” on Brexit.

“We’re not talking in the next five years realistically,” she said.

The Canterbury MP said Sir Keir Starmer may no longer be party leader when the time comes.

“Possibly we might even have a different sort of set up, a different leader by then, who knows,” she said.

MORE: Keir Starmer urged to build post-Brexit ‘progressive alliance’ to reform Westminster politics

The remarks come after Sir Keir told The Guardian he would not make any major changes to Britain’s relationship with the EU if he is elected prime minister.

Probed about the interview, Duffield said Labour backbenchers “don’t necessarily have to pay much attention to that”.

“Every day groups of Labour MPs and opposition MPs were meeting about People’s Vote and trying to take it to the absolute last minute, those people haven’t gone away,” she explained.

“And most people on the frontbench who voted for this deal last week did it with a very heavy heart and they haven’t given up either.

“We will try and shift the leadership, as and when it needs to shift towards rejoining I would imagine.

“Possibly we might even have a different sort of set up, a different leader by then, who knows. 

“We’re not talking in the next five years realistically.”

She continued: “The majority of the parliamentary Labour party wanted us to remain and were campaigning really hard on that and towards the end almost all of those people had signed up towards a People’s Vote.

“So the majority of us, we don’t need converting again, we’ve done all that gelling together if you like, it was pretty hellish, voting at two, three in the morning on these deals and things, and all the amendments we put forward.

“All of that hurt is still there and we are still desperate to rejoin if we possibly can I think, at heart.

“But it does depend on negotiating with Labour Party policy.”