Ex-shadow chancellor hints he could quit Labour over Brexit policy

PUBLISHED: 14:38 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 08 February 2019

Chris Leslie, Labour MP for Nottingham East Pic: Parliament

Chris Leslie, Labour MP for Nottingham East Pic: Parliament

Parliament

A Labour former minister has hinted he could quit the party as his "patience is wearing pretty thin" with its Brexit policy.

Amid reports that “at least” six Labour MPs were preparing to resign the whip and form a centre group, Chris Leslie said it was “absolutely understandable” that some of his colleagues may feel they have been driven to the edge.

The ex-shadow chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “I have to be honest, my patience is wearing pretty thin with the Labour Party policy on Brexit.

“This is the big issue of the moment and it’s going to affect not just trading relationships but percolate right through to the revenues that we have for our public services.

“If I want to avoid another decade of austerity I can’t help but focus on what is happening on Brexit and what is the Labour Party’s policy on Brexit and that is why... I’ve got some serious worries about where the leadership are going having basically dropped all of that Labour Party conference policy commitment from September and apparently trying to airbrush the concept of a public vote, letting the public have the final say on this, from where we stand.”

Asked how close he is to leaving the party, Leslie said: “Like a lot of people, party members who are resigning or thinking of giving up, do I understand that they are being driven to the edge? I do understand that, I think that is absolutely understandable.

“And I think the Labour leadership have absolutely got to address this right now.”

Leslie’s comments came as an Ipsos Mori poll found satisfaction ratings in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have fallen to their lowest ever levels.

The survey of more than 1,000 people found that just 17% were satisfied with how Corbyn is doing his job as leader of the opposition, down from 27% in December - while 72% of those asked were “dissatisfied” with his performance.

The market research company noted that it is the lowest satisfaction recorded for a Labour leader since Michael Foot in 1982.

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