Labour's Brexit nightmare: Starmer crisis as members demand UK rejoin EU

The YouGov survey yesterday showed 59 percent of grassroots Labour members think the party leader should campaign for the country to apply to be readmitted. Only 15 percent of those quizzed thought he should give up on the idea. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said last night: “This starkly demonstrates the circle that Starmer can’t square between his metropolitan members and the voters in the former Red Wall seats of the Midlands and the North.

“Whatever Starmer says his policy is on the EU, he and his party can’t be trusted if they ever get power not to sell us all back into vassalage as a member of the undemocratic and unaccountable European Union.”

The research comes just days after Sir Keir claimed the Brexit debate was over.

He said: “The referendum was five years ago now. We have left the EU. There is no case for rejoining.”

Labour is seeking to build trust with millions of its former voters who backed Leave in the 2016 EU referendum and switched to the Tories or the Brexit Party in recent elections. The party now faces a battle to hold on to Hartlepool, Co Durham, in a crunch by-­election on May 6.

Seventy percent of voters backed Leave in the referendum, and the poll is being seen as a crucial test of the Labour leader’s drive to win back votes in the North.

In a newspaper article yesterday, Sir Keir responded to recent criticism that voters do not know what he stands for. He also revealed he has ordered Labour to prepare to fight an early general election in May 2023.

He said: “I’m now looking forward to taking the mask off and opening the throttle.

“I’ve instructed the party to be election-ready for 2023. The next election, whenever it comes, will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get Britain working for everyone.”

Sir Keir, marking a year since taking over from the hard-Left Jeremy Corbyn, continued: “We’ve been rebuilding the Labour party and demonstrating that we are under new leadership.

“But it has been frustrating to spend the first year as leader unable to make a speech to a live audience or shake a single voter’s hand.”

The Left has been increasingly critical of their leader.

In another article to mark his one-year anniversary, Neal Lawson, director of the centre-Left campaign group Compass, wrote: “Today there is little buzz around Labour.

“The easy task of not being Jeremy Corbyn was achieved, but what now? Where are the ideas, alliances and forces, not just to win office, but to transform our society?”

A survey of Tory activists yesterday showed almost 80 percent believed their party will be in government again after the next election. Sir Keir was the architect of Labour’s European policy in his role as the party’s shadow Brexit secretary under Mr Corbyn.

He enraged Leave-supporting colleagues by leading calls for a second referendum before the country’s departure from the EU last year.

The party’s equivocal stance on Brexit repulsed many Leave voters in traditional Labour heartlands at the last election, leading to the Tories snatching a swathe of so-called Red Wall constituencies.

A year into his leadership, criticism within Labour is growing. Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair is reported to be losing faith after initially welcoming signs of a move away from the hard-Left.

Sir Keir has also struggled to land blows on Boris Johnson over his handling of the Covid pandemic in the light of the high-speed vaccine rollout.

Some Labour insiders are understood to be lining up former minister Yvette Cooper as a replacement if he is forced out after disappointing results in next month’s elections.

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