Sitting Labour MEP Blasts Corbyn Brexit Policy For 'Humiliation' At Euro-Elections

"Had Labour’s ‘high command’ set out to lose an election they could not have gone about it in a more convincing way," John Howarth writes in apology email to members.

A sitting Labour MEP has blasted his party’s “high command” for having “squandered” the chances of victory at the European elections.

In an extraordinary email sent to supporters on Sunday, seen by HuffPost UK, John Howarth fumed at Jeremy Corbyn’s “phenomenally naive or utterly mendacious” Brexit policy as he predicted near-wipeout for Labour.

Labour’s failure to take a clear pro-Remain stance, or fully back a second referendum, meant “an open goal has been missed” and the party had “brought on itself an electoral humiliation,” the South East MEP added.

It comes as votes in the EU-wide election will be counted from 10pm on Sunday, and as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party looks on course to sweep to power.

Labour, meanwhile, is forecast to have lost huge chunks of its pro-Remain support to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell admitted on Sunday in an interview with Sky News that Labour was “braced” for a “good kicking”.

“Had Labour’s ‘high command’ set out to lose an election they could not have gone about it in a more convincing way,” said Howarth, in a clear swipe at Corbyn.

“These elections were there to be won, that victory was squandered and a key opportunity to stake a claim as the party of government in waiting was lost.”

Labour’s Euro-elections manifesto became the subject of a bitter internal row.

The party’s pro-Remain grassroots, as well as key figures such as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and deputy leader Tom Watson, had been pressing for the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to take a more pro-Remain stance.

Instead, the party chose to continue with its policy of seeking a softer “Labour Brexit” and to leave a second referendum as an “option on the table”.

In the email, entitled ‘Thank You And Sorry’ and sent out to supporters on Sunday, Howarth raged that Corbyn-backers had dug in at the NEC as they “could not be seen to ‘lose’” and that even Labour members were backing other candidates.

He added: “Labour has lost a great opportunity and, over the past year, a great many members. By failing to listen to its supporters in the country who are ever more heavily ‘remain’, to the overwhelming bulk of its members, to the majority of its MPs and MEPs the party has brought on itself an electoral humiliation at a time when the Conservative party is woefully divided and manifestly incompetent in Government.”

He said Labour’s NEC “had plenty of warning” of the “likely consequences” of ignoring the party’s pro-Remain supporters.

“Nonetheless come the NEC meeting to determine our election policy, what should have been a discussion about what were the best tactics to win an election became a skirmish in Labour’s internal war that ‘the leadership’ could not be seen to ‘lose’,” he said.

“From that point the die was cast. I and other Labour MEPs and MPs continued to receive right up to polling day messages from Labour members and supporters who intended to support other parties on 23 May.”

He went on to suggest Labour’s bid to unify both sides of the debate was “a policy that would knowingly lose us votes”.

He said: “It isn’t that Labour’s message of ‘bringing the country together’ isn’t needed, simply that the country doesn’t seem ready to come together - Brexit is unfinished business. As such it was either phenomenally naive or utterly mendacious to put in place a policy that would knowingly lose votes in remarkable numbers.”

When approached about the email, a spokesman for the Labour Party told HuffPost: “These claims are just untrue.

“We ran a positive campaign attempting to bring our divided country together and to challenge the far-right in Britain and across Europe.”

The email in full


What's Hot