Labour should get off the fence and support staying in the EU, election survey shows

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn held talks in Brussels about Brexit in July 2017 [Image: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images].

It seems Labour’s brilliant strategy of being open to Leavers and Remainers alike, trying to heal the rifts of the EU referendum, may have been a mistake.

The British Election Study suggests that Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to triangulate – outflank the Conservatives – on Brexit may have hindered his election campaign last year, rather than helped it.

Still Labour insists that the referendum result is binding, even though Brits are turning against it – and against the godawful mess the Conservatives have made of negotiating our departure from the EU – in big numbers.

What will it take to get Mr Corbyn to admit what we all know?

Or are our politicians determined to put us through the torture of leaving the EU – just to teach us to take our referenda more seriously next time?

2017 was also a Brexit election after all.

Anti-Conservative tactical votes made a difference and the anti-Brexit vote as a phenomenon in its own right was instrumental in getting Labour over the line in some marginal seats and northern constituencies in particular.

The truth is Labour voters want to stay in the EU and the majority of Labour voters who voted Leave do not prioritise Brexit as the most important issue.

Regardless of region, age, class or the type of constituency, the number of Labour voters who supported Remain vastly outstrips Labour voters who supported Leave.

It shows that Labour is the party of Remain in every age group, class and every region of the country, including in the north and among working-class voters.

However, it is the demographic breakdown that delivers one of the most important insights. We know that middle-class and skilled workers traditionally supported Remain and working classes were more likely to support Leave nationally. But the Labour frontbench should be aware that the majority of Labour-voting working-class voters supported staying in the EU.

Even more crucially, this research suggests strong Leave voters are only a tiny proportion of Labour’s support. According to the British Election Study, just 9% of Labour’s total vote in 2017 is likely to have been Leave supporters, for whom Brexit was the issue they were most concerned about.

Source: Labour will win the next election if it becomes the party of Remain | Eloise Todd | Opinion | The Guardian

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16 thoughts on “Labour should get off the fence and support staying in the EU, election survey shows

  1. Barry

    Most leave votes came in Labour supporting areas, Labour opposed us joining the common market, it seems centre right people like Starmer don’t think the Labour supporters matter, it is time he was deselected

      1. rotzeichen

        Mike, I think there are serious problems in Europe that are irreconcilable, and to blindly believe that only right wingers voted out of Europe is to forget why we campaigned to get out of Europe in 1975.

        This graph is a major reason for Britain to rethink its relationship with Europe. These are their own statistics:,_2015_(EUR_billion).png

        The full picture is here:

        Not to understand what these statistics tell us is to ignore the core problems in Europe.

        We are not like those countries in Europe tied to the single currency, although a single currency of itself is not a problem, its the Neo-Liberal regulations and the ECB, just look what they did to Greece.

        We have our own sovereign currency unlike other countries such as Greece, we can spend into our economy without limit, Greece on the other hand is like a household it has to earn Euros in order to spend into its own economy.

        This is a fundamental difference that most people do not understand, but is supremely important.

        The energy we use on the debate over Europe should be directed at getting rid of the Tories, they and their Neo-Liberal counterparts in Europe are the real problem.

        That should be our over-riding focus, then after withdrawal, rebuild our economy and public services, we will not do that within Europe, as can be seen from our performance to-date in those statistics.

      2. Zippi

        rotzeichen, you are right. I have been saying this for the last year, nearly, two; too many people are fighting this argument, still without knowing the first thing about the E.U., what it is, how it works, what it does, what it is SUPPOSED to do. What worries me is that nobody seems to be finding out, either. Also, failure to understand that the result was not a single issue thing but nobody seems to be addressing the very valid concerns of the people people who voted to leave.
        Time is running out for us to sort out a deal, before we leave yet, energies seem focused, instead of that, on undermining a democratic decision.

  2. Growing Flame

    I find it encouraging that SOME polls record growing numbers opposing Brexit. But why should Labour jump onto that particular, uncertain bandwagon too soon? To announce a complete rejection of the Referendum could be sold by the tabloids as “betrayal” or, at least, a cavalier disregard for democracy when Labour is increasingly seen as the most actively democratic Party.
    Why not let the Tories carry on struggling to find a fudged deal that might ,miraculously, satisfy both their wings? At present, Labour can appear to accept the Referendum result but wait for the wheels to come off the Tories once the nature of any deal becomes clear. The old adage about “supporting, like a rope supports a hanging man”.

  3. Stu

    Brexit was supposed to be a Cross-party affair but it’s a Tory Brexit where no-one else have a say unless they legally press the point.

    Given that Labour are effectively excluded from the process, why should they participate in the pantomime?

    It is better for others to assume than state your position and remove all doubt !

  4. NMac

    Brexit has always been an internal Tory Party squabble. It remains just that today. Labour should, I firmly believe, disown the fraudulent referendum

    1. Zippi

      Why do so many people believe this? If this were truly the case, only Tories would have voted for us to leave. The truth is that many, MANY people have been unhappy with the E.U. for a long, long time; why else did U.K.I.P. exist? Who were the people who supported U.K.I.P.? Tories, or disaffected £abour supporters? Remember, the E.U. referendum was NOT party political. Many people voted for us to leave for many different reasons and although I don’t know this, I am more than sure that the majority were not Tories.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Well, they weren’t Labour: 63 per cent of Labour supporters voted Remain. And they weren’t SNP: 64 per cent of their supporters voted Remain. The majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to Remain. The Liberal Democrats tried to make themselves the party of Remain.

      2. Zippi

        My point is, Mike, that it wasn’t a party political decision. If 63% of our supporters (I assume, of those who voted) voted to remain, it follows that 37% voted to leave. Similarly, if 64% of S.N.P. supporters voted to remain, it follows that 36% voted to leave and so on. These people are NOT Tories. We must stop looking at this issue in party political terms, because it isn’t a party political issue. There has been discontentment about the E.U. since we joined it and the E.C. before it, that’s why U.K.I.P. exists. If nobody deals with those issues, the problem will never be solved and the issue will never go away.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        Your assertion was that most people who voted to leave weren’t Tories.
        I was merely pointing out that, of all the political parties (apart from UKIP), the largest Leave-voting contingent was in the Tory party.
        If David Cameron had done his job properly, a majority of Tories would have voted Remain.
        But then, he is (now) the UK’s second-worst prime minister – only superceded by his immediate successor.

      4. Zippi

        Indeed, he is. I say, again however that the referendum was NOT party political and we must stop viewing it as such. This is why so many of the parties are struggling. Both £abour and the Conservatives campaigned on BOTH sides of the debate.
        I am still flabbergasted that, seemingly, not one person, in either House, thought it necessary to highlight possible consequences of a vote to leave, during the Referendum Bill debates. I have just listened to John Major and thought, why were we not given such consideration, when he took us into the E.U.? The Referendum result might have been quite different, had he not signed us up to things with which many people are not happy. My understanding is that we were supposed to have a referendum at the time but that was kicked into the long grass and everything wrapped up into a treaty on which we had no say. The whole exercise has been a complete ***k up. So much has been done in retrospect, with no forethought, from the Referendum Bill, through the campaign period and now. Why was none of these things considered in good time? Why was there no proper planning, even of the Referendum? If David Cameron had done his job properly… I don’t think that I need to finish that sentence however I cannot blame just him, for there are around 1.400 people in Parliament. Why did the not do THEIR jobs, properly? Why are we having these debates now? These debates should have taken place BEFORE the Referendum was given! I say, again; a pox on BOTH Houses.

  5. HomerJS

    Corbyn is staying away from the Brexit argument because he knows that if he stands up he will just become a target. He learned his lesson from the 2016 vote when he was blamed for not campaigning enough. He would be the focus of all the debate. Better to leave Theresa in the firing line and avoid being a convenient distraction.

  6. Sue

    I think we have a choice. Maybe (and it’s a big maybe) staying in the EU or having a socialist govt. for me a radical socialist govt Trumps the EU issue. EU is being used as a wedge to divide labour and ensure we don’t win an election.

  7. Carol Fraser

    Carry on with Brexit and there will be no economy to finance anything. IMF and IFS are both saying Brexit or the NHS. Now I know they are experts and Brexiteers don’t like experts BUT unlike the duplicitous politicians and traitorous press barons they do know what they are talking about. The Japs are warning “we will take the car manufacturing out, Airbus the wing manufacturing out of N.I., European finance centres are lined up to take the financial services, science is in despair over the loss of incoming educated brainpower, Euratom will relocate, BMW will also relocate”. So in this Brexit Utopian world what next? Australia and New Zealand are more interested in the EU as is China. Still never mind guys you can export jam all over the world. Oh and good luck with the American trade deal. That will be on Trumpty’s terms and if you think the EU regulations are tricky you ain’t see nothing yet. Have you seen a picture of an American chicken farm, give me European standards any day.

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