Jeremy Corbyn is partially to blame for Brexit as he failed a “key test” of leadership during the campaign, a Labour peer has said.
Lord Liddle, a longtime adviser to Tony Blair on EU policy who backed ‘Remain’, said today he had to “hang my head in shame” at the referendum result.
And he pinned much of the blame on his own party’s leadership. “I do say this with terrible sadness, the debilitation of our own party contributed to Brexit,” he said.
“We have a leader who unlike vast majority of Labour members, including many of those who joined up to support him, has never been a European true believer.
“And in the referendum he failed a key test of democratic politics, which is to cut through media cynicism and the mass of seething public discontents with a compelling positive case for Europe that force voters to listen.”
Lord Liddle was speaking as peers debated the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill which, when passed, will allow Theresa May to trigger Article 50.
His criticism of Corbyn mirrored that made by Blair, who last week said “the debilitation of the Labour party is the facilitator of Brexit”.
Many pro-EU Labour MPs blame Corbyn for not campaigning strongly enough for a ‘Remain’ vote.
The Labour leader has in the past been eurosceptic - although he opposed Brexit at the referendum.
His order that Labour MPs vote in favour of Brexit in parliament led to several resignations, including shadow business secretary Clive Lewis.
Corbyn is facing a key test this week when votes go to the polls in Stoke and Copeland by-elections.
Both seats are currently held by Labour, but the party is in a tough battle with the Tories and Ukip to retain them.
Last night, former Labour cabinet minister Lord Mandelson re-opened internal party battle lines when he said he was working “every single day” to bring about Corbyn’s downfall.
His comment came hours after a new ICM/Guardian opinion poll gave the Tories an 18-point lead over Labour.