Labour peer accuses party of putting 'tribe before country' over Brexit

PUBLISHED: 14:17 30 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:17 30 January 2018

Lord Rooker


A Labour former minister has accused his party leadership of putting "tribe before country" over Brexit.

Lord Rooker told peers there were factions in both Labour and the Tories who had more in common with each other than their party leaders on the issue.

He also said he could consider joining a political movement led by Lord Heseltine, the Conservative former deputy prime minister.

Lord Rooker, who served as MP for Birmingham Perry Barr for 27 years, said of the Withdrawal Bill: "I want it to go back to the Commons amended in a variety of areas, not least giving the people the choice to leave or remain based on the evidence of facts, not lies from a soapbox.

"The key is that the Bill is amended in the interests of the whole nation, not a political tribe.

"The leadership of my tribe does not have clean hands on this issue, because it has been tribe before country.

"The big political tribes are not the same as they were before June 23, 2016. Within each tribe there is a flock that has more in common with each other than with the tribe they are part of.

"I recently sat in this chamber listening to one of the most powerful and thoughtful speeches I have ever heard on industrial policy, thinking to myself as I closed my eyes the deadly thought that if Lord Heseltine was leader of a tribe, I could join it.

"But he's not, so I remain where I am, for the moment."

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