Labour leadership contender calls for referendum on royal family

Prince of Wales, Duke of York (obscured), the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and

Prince of Wales, Duke of York (obscured), the Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Labour leadership contender Clive Lewis has called for a referendum on the future of the royal family.

The shadow Treasury minister called for the poll as part of a package of sweeping constitutional reforms, including the introduction of proportional representation.

Speaking at a campaign event in south London, Lewis said: "Why not have a referendum in this country on the future of the royal family?

"We are a democracy. I'd rather see us as citizens rather than subjects in the 21st Century."

He added: "Let's look at what a modern state looks like and what the role of the royal family would be."

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Lewis expressed sympathy for the Duchess of Sussex, who he says has been subjected to racism in the media.

He continued: "I completely respect the right of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to do what they have done. It is a matter for them.

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"It is extremely unfortunate and a sign of the media we have that they feel they have to do this.

"I know it is not the only reason. But if you look at the intrusion on their lives, if you look at the racism that Meghan Markle has experienced in the British media, then I can understand why, given what's happened, given the difficulties within their family, it can't be easy being a royal."

The comments came as the shadow minister said the Labour Party must "modernise or die".

He said: "We can't have more of the same. The Labour Party needs to modernise or it will die.

"I'm fed up with the top-down style of politics, where real debate and discussion in our party is stifled because of sectarianism and tribalism. We can't grow as a party if we're afraid of having difficult discussions.

"I'm standing because I see a party in crisis and democracy in crisis, and unless we start addressing some fundamental issues, a few tweaks of policy here, or a slight change of leader there, aren't going to bring the real change that this country urgently needs."

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