Jess Phillips has given Diane Abbott the perfect analogy on why Labour needs to stop talking about a general election and instead show “courage and leadership” on Brexit.
The Labour MP was talking to the shadow home secretary on BBC News about Friday’s English local council election results, which both Labour and the Conservatives performed badly in.
In the debate, Abbott said there should be a general election and added that the country needed to be brought back together as it is so divided over Brexit.
Phillips hit back, saying she had a very remain and very pro-second referendum position but was in a leave seat, which meant she was “only too aware of how we have to keep the country together”.
“As much as we want an election, I want to be a size 10 but I keep eating cake. You don’t just get what you want. An election is not what’s in front of us. Brexit is the thing that is in front of us. We have to show courage and leadership,” she said.
As the camera panned to Abbott looking deeply unimpressed, Phillips added: “People loved Corbyn because they thought that he was honest and would come out and say what he actually thought but what he seems to think on this [Brexit] is a bit like ‘oh well, we’ll see’...”
She said she didn’t understand why the Labour party “doesn’t lean in” to its assets, which she said were that it was meant to be principled, outward facing and internationalist.
“These are the things that people want to see and I just cannot understand why we can’t be much much clearer,” she said. “Let the Tories play with the Brexit ball and let it wreck them. Why on earth are we allowing it to do the same thing to us that it has done to the Tories for the last 40 years?”
Phillips is trending on twitter following the debate, with many praising her for showing the courage and leadership she said the party needed.
Another Twitter user Glen Monks shared a clip of the discussion and said he loved Phillips.
“She speaks more and more sense, more and more truth to power. She embodies political courage, and gives me hope when I have none,” he said.
Others accused her of damaging her own party and being rude to Abbott.
Earlier Abbott told presenters she believed the Labour party could win a general election if one was called now, despite the lacklustre results in the local elections.
Brexit is thought to be the reason that both major parties suffered losses in the elections amid the deadlock in Westminster.
In contrast, the Lib Dems claimed their best results since 2003.