14/02/2017 15:01 GMT | Updated 14/02/2017 15:37 GMT

Diane Abbott, John McDonnell And Clive Lewis To Tour Brexit Towns To Fight Ukip Threat

MPs to battle 'croissant munching metropolitan elite' image.


Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Clive Lewis plan to tour Brexit-voting cities with the pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum in an attempt to fight off the threat from Ukip.

The allies of the Labour leader will aim to convince people not all ‘Remain’ voters are members of the “croissant munching metropolitan elite”.

June’s referendum has exposed the gulf between the majority of Labour MPs who backed ‘Remain’ and the majority of Labour constituencies which voted for Brexit.

The series of public events, targeted on marginal constituencies and those under threat from Ukip, will begin on April 1 in  Sunderland - the poster city for ‘Leave’.

Other meetings will be held in Barnsley, Croydon, Plymouth, Bradford, Hastings, Hackney, Norfolk, York and Dagenham.

Labour is facing a threat from Ukip in the upcoming Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, where party leader Paul Nuttall is hoping to capitalise on the the town’s pro-Brexit sentiment to get elected to parliament.

Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Stoke Central by-election candidate and party leader Paul Nuttall, laying out his party's plan for Brexit at the Ukip campaign shop in Stoke.

The meetings are being planned by The World Transformed (TWT), the political events organisation attached to Momentum which held its first event alongside the official Labour Party conference in Liverpool last year.

Charlie Clarke, the national organiser of the tour, said the goal of the meetings was to “recognise the large amount of common ground the majority of people in this country share” despite the divisions of the referendum.

“Since the referendum the establishment have pedaled the idea that every remain voter is part of a croissant munching metropolitan elite while every leave voter is racist, xenophobic and backwards. These stereotypes are divisive, poisonous and flat out untrue,” he said.

Lewis quit the shadow cabinet last week after he defied Corbyn’s orders and voted against giving Theresa May the authority to trigger Article 50 - the formal process of leaving the EU.

However he also recently warned Labour it is “hanging on by the fingernails” against Ukip in the north of England.

Labour MPs, including Abbott, agonised over whether to approve the referendum result in parliament. In last week’s Commons vote, 52 voted against Brexit.

The World Transformed has adopted Vote Leave’s “take back control” slogan for the tour.

Rachel Maskell, the former shadow environment secretary who also quit Corbyn’s frontbench to vote against Brexit, is due to join her colleagues in speaking at the meetings.

“The overriding cry from the EU Referendum was that people wanted more control over the lives they lead and those who represent them in our political institutions,” she said.

“When you don’t know how many hours you will work on your zero-hour contract, or when your landlord will tell you to pack your bags, it is increasingly impossible to have control over anything.” 

A YouGov poll published yesterday suggested Ukip is performing better with working class voters with 23% support compared to Labour’s 20%.