Labour’s refusal to respect the referendum result is losing them life-long voters in places like Crewe

Labour’s refusal to respect the referendum result is losing them life-long voters in places like Crewe

“I have voted Labour all my life, but not this time.”

I have lost count of the number of times people have said that to me this week. I am campaigning hard in one of the top marginal seats in this election – Crewe and Nantwich. There were just 48 votes in it last time in a seat that voted just over 60% for Leave.

What is going on here exemplifies the sentiment door-knockers in Labour Leave areas are picking up nationwide. The issue of Brexit puts into stark headlights the growing division between the Labour membership in its new metropolitan strongholds and its members and voters in the wider country.

Many of the Labour voters I speak to see their refusal to respect the Brexit result as the final step Labour have taken in the wrong direction.

Locally their Labour MP – and now candidate – didn’t find time to support a pro-Brexit protest but did manage to support Extinction Rebellion protestors. This is the same person who has spent two years saying they would respect the referendum and now wants a second one.

The British electorate is eminently sensible. They are very good at picking up the broad focus of the political parties, who is focused on them and who is not. When Tony Blair reached out to the middle classes and business, they felt it. When David Cameron sought to present a fresh face to a more liberal electorate, they felt it. The electorate can now feel Labour, despite what it says, chasing after the Remain vote and voters know it.

Labour are willing a change of attitude amongst the electorate that is not going to happen. They want voters to think a second referendum is needed for legitimacy for Brexit. Brexit voters know their vote was legitimate and they would have been told to like it or lump it if Remain had won.

Labour want Brexit voters to feel their vote and their say is unworthy because more younger people wanted to Remain. Brexit voters know that argument hasn’t been applied to those living most or all of their adult lives in the EU who voted against joining or were too young to vote at all.

Labour want Brexit voters to think they didn’t know what they were voting for. Brexit voters know that people supporting Remain have quite literally no idea what staying in the EU would mean for us five, ten or fifteen years from now.

Brexit voters know that they definitely did not vote to stay in the Single Market or Customs Union and that the ‘Brexit deal’ Labour would try and offer them would not be Brexit at all.

One voter in Crewe told me last week that having voted for Labour since he was 21 (as the voting age used to be), now – at the age of 88 – for the first time, he would be voting Conservative. Why?

“Because we are a democracy, and the people voted to Leave.”

I could not put it better myself.