Labour Leave played a crucial role during the referendum, working in the Labour heartlands to secure Labour support for Brexit. Despite all the odds, Labour Leave beat the Labour in for Britain campaign. On referendum night we saw virtually every Labour seat outside of London support a vote to leave, and as a consequence the UK left the EU. The referendum would not have been won but for the efforts of Labour Leave campaign securing enough support among Labour voters for Brexit.
It was vitally important that Labour voters supporting Leave had a voice in the Labour movement during the referendum campaign. Many of these Brexit-Labour voters are in traditional working class communities up and down the country. Over the past decade we have seen a gradual decline in support for Labour among working-class voters. The People’s Party is losing out to the People’s Army of UKIP which has marched into the heartlands and started eating up the old Labour vote. Without Labour Leave, those Labour Brexit voters would have had no representation in the Labour Party and would have been ripe for the picking by UKIP candidates post referendum.
Now the referendum has been won, the organisation’s work is far from over. Brexit is by no means secure. There is strong support in the Parliamentary Labour Party for a second referendum and some Labour MPs have even stated their intention to attempt to block Article 50 being invoked. Labour Leave must continue to make the case for Brexit with arguments that will resonate within the Labour movement and to explain the benefits of leaving the European Union.
Labour Leave was shown to be the most positive campaign during the referendum in a recent report by the Electoral Reform Society. There remains a strong need for Labour figures supporting Brexit to continue to be vocal about the positive opportunities ahead for the United Kingdom outside of the European Union. The organisation must continue to ensure Brexit does indeed mean Brexit. This means an end to free movement and total control of our borders. The UK Parliament must be supreme and the UK should withdraw from the Single Market.
UKIP has been, and still is, a tremendous electoral threat to Labour. Labour Leave made it possible for Labour voters supporting Brexit to feel they have a voice and representation in the Labour movement. However, the thin red line which Labour Leave provided between protecting support for Labour among working-class communities risks being overwhelmed by the People’s Army in UKIP. The current turmoil in the Labour Party provides UKIP with an enormous opportunity to sweep through the Labour heartlands and to make terrible gains at Labour’s expense. Labour must urgently and immediately engage with those working-class voters it alienated during the referendum campaign if it is to survive as a national party, capable of forming a government.
Labour Leave is a respected campaign and can assist the Labour Party to re-engage with disaffected working class voters. Labour must listen to voters’ concerns over immigration and the consequences of open-door migration on low-paid workers. Labour must understand the strong patriotic conviction held so strongly by Labour voters and harness it in its language and ideals. Labour should develop policies that offer those voters jobs that provide worth and value and which generate economic growth in communities that feel abandoned and left behind. Labour is currently facing a crisis of existence. For many years Eurosceptic Labour voters have warned the Party of the huge risks facing it. Unfortunately, those warnings have fallen on deaf ears. Labour must listen now, and act for its very survival.
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