The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. And a bitter battle over Jeremy Corbyn’s role in the referendum campaign has erupted as Labour MPs blamed him for the huge Brexit vote in the party’s heartlands.
As the country and Westminster was coming to terms with the result, Labour MPs were handed a script, seen by The Huffington Post, to work from when appearing on TV and radio programmes.
Referendum, 0600 script
- Clearly many communities across our country feel left behind and cut off by the political establishment in Brussels and Westminster. This was a rejection of the status quo by millions of people who are not sharing in the wealth of this country, for whom the economy is not working.
- After this divisive campaign and close vote, the first task is to come together and heal the divisions. Our country is divided and things need to change. Politicians on all sides must respect the voice of the British people, who have spoken.
- Labour is the only party that can meet the challenge we now face. We realise that people want politicians who put them first. As the party that stands up for working people, Labour is best placed re-unite the country - we can do so as we did not engage in project fear, and we share people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo, which is why we put a critical case for both remain and reform.
- In making this argument Labour showed that it is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other political parties. Jeremy is uniquely placed as a critical remainer. He understands why people voted to leave, he understood people’s criticisms of Europe – and is the only leader of a major party in Britain to whom that applies.
- The Tories cannot possibly provide the leadership we need – they are divided from top to bottom.
- It is hard to see how David Cameron has a long-term future as Prime Minister, but Labour’s immediate priority is to stabilise the country and the markets.
People have clearly sent a message that they are not content with the status quo: a failed economic strategy and fears over immigration.
- The government’s prophecies of economic doom did not work, because not enough people have shared in the fragile recovery.
- This vote is a damning indictment of failed economic policies in post-industrial communities. We now need the government to abandon its failed economic policies and invest in the parts of Britain forgotten for too long.
- There have also been clear concerns about the impact of immigration. People are concerned about wages being undercut, and public services under strain. But more economically deprived areas, which haven’t experienced higher levels of migration, are also fearful of its impact.
- This was a rejection of the status quo by millions of people who are not sharing in the wealth of this country, for whom the economy is not working.
Our priority now must be to come together and meet the challenges facing the country.
- The government has to do whatever is necessary to protect working people and those on low incomes from instability arising from the referendum outcome.
- If there are economic difficulties caused by this vote, then the government must abandon its fiscal rule and invest (to stimulate and stabilise the economy. Any economic turmoil must be paid for by taxes on those with the broadest shoulders, not by cuts to the poorest.
- The Prime Minister will now be considering his position. He clearly has lost the confidence of his party, and of the country.
Labour is the only party that can meet the challenge we now face.
- We realise that people want politicians who put them first. As the party that stands up for working people, Labour is best placed re-unite the country - we can do so as we did not engage in project fear, and we share people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo, which is why we put a critical case for both remain and reform.
- Jeremy Corbyn has showed that he is far closer to the centre of gravity of the British public than other politicians. He is now the only politician who can unite a divided country, as he can speak to both sides.
- The Tories cannot possibly provide the leadership we need – they are divided from top to bottom.
- We need a Government which can provide unity but David Cameron has shown he can’t even unite his Cabinet behind him. It is hard to see how he has a long term future as Prime Minister.
- We cannot leave the exit negotiations to the unstable government that we have – and we are calling for an open, transparent parliamentary process, with votes at every stage. Labour will fight to secure the best deal for the people of Britain.
- This has been a divisive campaign and we call for calm – for politicians to tone down their rhetoric, for people to accept the result however you voted, and for no rash decisions in the markets.
Do you think David Cameron should resign?
It is clear that David Cameron has no long-term future as Prime Minister, but the immediate priority is to stabilise the country and the markets.
He led a campaign of ‘project fear’, which failed to convince his own party supporters or the British public of his case.
Can Labour re-unite divided Britain?
Yes. Clearly Britain’s largest cities and Scotland have voted to remain, while smaller urban areas and rural areas have voted to leave. Labour is best placed to re-unite the country because we did not engage in project fear, and we put a critical case for remain.
Was this a rejection of Labour’s message?
No. We raised concerns about Europe throughout – and it’s very clear that Labour areas hit hardest by austerity and that are the most deprived, especially post-industrial
Hasn’t Labour lost touch with its working class base of support?
Many of the areas hardest hit by this government’s policies have used this referendum as a means to kick a Conservative government that is out of touch. This was a vote against a government that has failed to rebalance the economy, and has failed to deliver the Northern Powerhouse that it keeps announcing.
How do you explain that so many Labour areas have voted Leave?
Some areas have been deprived of investment for a generation, and feel left behind. Following six years of Tory austerity, and further industrial collapse.
It is clear that working class people who feel they have not benefited from this Tory recovery have rejected a status quo that has done nothing for them.
Hasn’t this campaign shown Labour is completely out of touch on immigration?
Immigration is clearly a big issue for people – and Labour has put forward solutions in this campaign: we’ve proposed restoring the Migration Impact Fund to help communities where there is a rapid influx of migrants and public services like housing, GPs surgeries and schools. That fund was setup by the last Labour government in 2008, but was abolished by David Cameron in 2010.
The Conservatives promised to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands to try to win votes. They have failed to deliver as they knew they would. Labour has practical solutions, the Tories have spin.
Labour has also proposed changes to employment law to stop migrant workers being exploited and to stop workers in Britain from being undercut, e.g. closing loophole in Posting of Workers Directive; employing more minimum wage inspectors; banning zero hours contracts; banning agencies from only advertising abroad for jobs in Britain.
Has Labour heard people’s concerns about the free movement of people?
Yes, we have. That’s why we’ve suggested practical policies like the Migrant Impact Fund and to ban jobs in Britain from being only advertised abroad.
But when it comes to any new accession countries in the future, we will back controls until wage levels in those countries have closed the gap with our own.
Did Labour do enough in this referendum?
Yes, Labour voters voted overwhelmingly for remain, it is Conservative voters who rejected the arguments put forward by their Leader.
But some Labour voters saw it as an opportunity to kick the government or get rid of David Cameron.
Senior Labour figures toured all over the country speaking at rallies, debates and meetings to make the case. On the leave side too, Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart were prominent campaigners.
What’s Jeremy done in this campaign?
Jeremy has led from the front in this campaign. He’s been making the positive case for remaining and reforming the EU up and down the country. His activity has included:
- 10 EU rallies, with speeches and meetings in London, Bristol, Stroud, Newquay, Perranporth, Cardiff, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Runcorn, Manchester, Truro, Sheffield, Widnes, Doncaster, Rotherham, Hastings, Brighton, Dundee, Aberdeen and Birmingham.
- These included a meeting with student nurses in Birmingham, a factory in Runcorn, a clean beaches event in Truro and campaigning with activists in Scotland.
- Launched the Labour In bus and the Ad Van.
- A debate on Sky News with Faisal Islam, also talked about the EU on the Agenda and the Last Leg. Appeared on the Andrew Marr show twice and on Peston on Sunday.
- Written two op-eds, one in the Observer and another in the Mirror.
- Reached more than 10 million people on social media.
- Six statements to the House of Commons and 10 PMQs on the EU.
- He has been consistent on this issue from day one of his leadership, issuing a statement on September that “Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in the European Union”.
Is Labour advocating that we remain in the single market and retain the free movement of people?
The people of Britain have spoken and their collective view is that they want to leave the European Union. The single market and free movement are core parts of EU membership – and politicians should take that into account.
It will be for the government to start the exit negotiations and to take into account the democratic will of the British people and the best interests of our country.
Should this mean another Scottish referendum?
People across Scotland decided less than two years ago that they wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. It was the biggest ever poll in Scotland, with two years of engagement before it and 85% of people turning out.
The Scottish Tories and the SNP want to carry on the debate about the constitution. Kezia Dugdale has made absolutely clear she won't support another referendum in this Parliament. Instead she'll focus on improving Scotland's public services and holding the SNP Government to account.
With no majority in the Scottish Parliament and no commitment to another referendum in her manifesto, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP don't have a mandate for a second referendum in this Parliament.