Labour's lack of leadership on Brexit has cost the party in local elections: Labour MP
PUBLISHED: 12:08 05 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:08 05 May 2019
Labour MP Bridget Phillipson has said that Labour's lack of clarity on Brexit is to blame to Labour's losses in the council elections.
The MP spoke on Sky's Sophy Ridge politics show after Labour lost 86 council seats and control over six councils.
The Conservatives lost 1,335 seats.
Sky's Sophy Ridge asked Phillipson why, when the party of government lost so many seats, Labour as opposition had done so badly.
The Houghton and Sunderland South MP answered: “There's no getting away from the fact that this was a very disappointing evening for Labour.
“After nearly a decade of Tory austerity, we should be doing a lot better, there can be no doubt about that.”
“Why weren't you?” asked Ridge.
“I think our hesitation and uncertainty on Brexit has really cost us,” said Phillipson.
“If you look at the gains that the Liberal Democrats have made, including places like Sunderland, they had the biggest swing to the Liberal Democrats.
“I think our hesitant nature, the lack of clarity, the lack of leadership around Brexit ... I think people want to know where we stand.”
READ: Local election results re-open splits within Labour over Brexit
Phillipson was one of the first Labour MPs to call for a People's Vote and re-stated that position on Ridge's show.
In the “unlikely” event that her party reaches a deal with the Tories, she said: “I think we've reached a point where that deal has to go back to the British people.”
In Phillipson's constituency, where 60 per cent of people voted to leave, she said that she speaks to committed Leavers but also speaks to an increasing number who are “really concerned about the direction the country is headed in.
“I think that something stitched up, cobbled together in Westminster, just will not be sustainable in the long run, in such a big decision about the future of our country.”
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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, earlier on the show, agreed that the party needed to have more clarity.
“I think people wanted to know where we stand,” he told Ridge. “I think we need to see a much greater degree of clarity.”