The Labour brand is being damaged by all those in my party talking of a second referendum

The Labour brand is being damaged by all those in my party talking of a second referendum

Today’s vote at Labour conference on a motion on Brexit is needless and unnecessary. We’re damaging the Labour brand and alienating our supporters. We have already had a vote on the UK’s membership of the EU; it’s been done and dusted. The Labour Party and its members must accept this and move on. We are playing with fire, and we are very close to getting burnt.

I’m glad to see the motion has been weakened and that we’re not voting on adopting a second referendum as official party policy. This demonstrates that Jeremy and the leadership understand that calling for a second referendum would be deadly to Labour and relegate us to years and even decades of opposition.

Still, the fact that people, like Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, are throwing around the possibility of a second referendum with the option to Remain in the EU is devastating to the party’s brand. It makes us look like the party of Remain and is a betrayal of the very highest order. It is a betrayal not only of the millions of Labour voters, but of our 2017 manifesto and one that voters will remember for a very long time – and we will lose MPs as a result. There is no doubt: Keir’s speech today was a P45 to our MPs in the Midlands and Wales.

But let me be clear on another thing: Keir’s speech was also a challenge to Jeremy’s leadership. It was a carefully calculated pitch, no doubt written with a team of advisers. He is undermining Jeremy, John McDonnell and millions of Labour voters – and he knows it.

At times the speech had more in common with a leadership stump speech than a policy announcement. Many people will wonder whether Sir Keir is trying to line himself up as the Remain replacement for Jeremy. Today’s speech shows that Keir is captive to New Labour interests in People’s Vote. He is willing to sell our party and voters down the river to advance those interests. He does not respect the democratic process and, even worse, he does not respect our voters.

All this creates the risk that whenever anyone looks at Jeremy or the Labour Party logo, they will start thinking Remain.

The result is that we will haemorrhage votes. On some estimates, nearly half of potential Labour voters are Leave voters. Certainly nearly 30 percent of Labour voters in 2015 voted Leave. If we continue down this dangerous path of toying with a second referendum, we will gift hundreds of thousands of votes to the Conservatives and other parties.

Research released over the weekend shows that if Labour is perceived to have blocked Brexit we will lose 19 MPs. Given that there are a number of marginal seats in the Midlands and Wales where there is a significant number of Labour voters who backed Leave, the number could well end up being higher.

I’m eternally surprised that the Labour Party and its members have been taken in by the neo-Blairites at People’s Vote. Many have been hoodwinked into thinking that the EU is a bastion of left-wing policy. It’s not; it’s a neo-liberal superstate.