There is “no case for rejoining” the European Union, Keir Starmer has declared.
The Labour leader insisted there is no chance of the UK ever becoming a member of the bloc in the future during a visit to Newcastle.
In remarks which are likely to infuriate many in his party, he said he wanted “to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities” of Brexit.
Starmer’s comments are significant because, as shadow Brexit secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, he was the architect of Labour’s support for a second EU referendum.
But speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle, he insisted Labour now accepted the result of the 2016 referendum and would not seek to overturn it if he becomes prime minister.
He said: “We have exited the EU and we are not going back - let me be very clear in the north east about that. There is no case for rejoining.
“What I want to see now is not just Brexit done in the sense that we’re technically out of the EU, I want to make it work. I want to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities and we have a clear plan for Brexit.”
Elsewhere in his interview, Starmer confirmed that he has received death threats since Boris Johnson wrongly accused him of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile when he was Director of Public Prosecutions.
Asked about reports he had received death threats, he replied: “Yes. I do not like talking about this because I’ve got young children.
“It’s very important for me to say what the Prime Minister said was wrong, it was very wrong, he knew what he was doing.”
Starmer added: “That has caused difficulty, but my preference is not to talk about that because I’ve got young children and I don’t want them to hear too much about what is or not said about me.”
HuffPost UK understands that notorious far-right activist Tommy Robinson has shared the Savile smear against Starmer with his followers.