Lammy: There is no left-wing justification for Labour to back Brexit

PUBLISHED: 16:43 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:53 10 January 2019

David Lammy in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA.

David Lammy in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

David Lammy has said that there is "no left-wing justification for Brexit" as he dismissed calls from colleagues to "appease" Labour voters in industrial towns.

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Lammy, who represents Tottenham in north London, criticised the government’s approach before giving some “home truths” to his fellow Labour MPs and urging them to stand with their young supporters.

Speaking in the Commons, Lammy said he believed most MPs privately believe Brexit will “wreck” jobs, the NHS and the UK’s standing in the world but do not say this publicly.

He said: “Brexit is a con, a trick, a swindle, a fraud, a deception that will hurt most of those people it promised to help, a dangerous fantasy which will make every problem it claims to solve worse.”

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Lammy warned of a “crisis of leadership” in the country and said Theresa May has delivered a “lose-lose compromise” via her deal.

He also urged MPs to show “courage” and tell the truth to those who disagree with them, saying: “Friends on this side of the House tell me to appease Labour voters in industrial towns - the former miners, the factory workers, those who feel they’ve been left behind.

“I say we must not patronise them with cowardice, let’s tell them the truth - you were sold a lie.”

Lammy added: “Immigrants have not taken your jobs, our schools and colleges failed to give you the skills, hospitals are not crumbling because of health tourists but decades of austerity that ground them down to the bone, you cannot afford a house because both parties failed to build, not because of Mohammed down the road who moved in, and wealth was hoarded in London when it should have been shared across the country.

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“Blame us, blame Westminster, do not blame Brussels for our own country’s mistakes and do not be angry at us for telling you the truth, be angry at the chancers who sold you a lie.”

Lammy noted Martin Luther King said “A time comes when silence is betrayal”, before adding: “Just as I speak plainly to the government this time around, let me also speak to the Opposition about some home truths.

“There is no left-wing justification for Brexit.

“Ditching workers’ rights, social protections and ending environmental cooperation is not progressive.

“This is a project about neo-liberal deregulation, it’s Thatcherism on steroids pushed by her modern-day disciples.

“Leaving the EU will not free us from the injustices of global capitalism, it will make us subordinate to Trump’s US.

“Socialism confined to one country will not work, whether you like it or not, the world we live in is global, we can only fix the rigged system if we cooperate across border lines.

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“The party of Keir Hardie has always been international. We must not let down our young supporters by failing to stand with them at the biggest issue of our lives.”

Lammy said the UK could reform the EU “from the top table” and “share the load of mass migration”, among other things, if it stays in.

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