By Marcus Barnett
LEN McCLUSKEY has said that it is “wilful blindness” to deny that Labour lost the election because of Brexit.
The Unite general secretary stated that it is “pretty obvious” that the reason for Labour losing 59 seats — including in traditionally Labour-voting areas — was because of its Remain-leaning stance on Brexit.
In an article for the HuffPostUK, he added: “When our losses are concentrated in former coalfield constituencies and other post-industrial communities that voted heavily Leave in the 2016 referendum, and yet we happily retain our position in London more-or-less unscathed, it is staring us in the face.”
Mr McCluskey criticised the party’s “metropolitan” focus that he said was in a large part to blame for the party’s crushing electoral defeat.
He also wrote: “When a party wins 44 per cent of the vote, as the Tories have done, saying ‘get Brexit done’ and literally nothing else for the whole campaign, to deny the centrality of this issue to the outcome is wilful blindness.”
Pro-EU possible leadership contenders such as Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry were criticised in his article for having pushed for a second referendum and for having “fatally undermined” Mr Corbyn’s attempt to unite Leave and Remain voters by publicly pledging to campaign against any deal negotiated by Labour.
He wrote that as a result of this, Labour would always “find it difficult to be taken seriously” by Leave voters.
This significant intervention comes as former Labour MP Caroline Flint claimed that Ms Thornberry told a Labour MP representing a Leave seat: “I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours.”
Shadow foreign secretary and Islington South MP Ms Thornberry said this had not happened.
Mr McCluskey also suggested that voters were left unconvinced by Labour’s “incontinent” stream of policy proposals that gave the impression of “obscuring the party’s sense of priorities.”
He also claimed that Mr Corbyn’s failure to apologise for anti-semitism during a campaign interview represented a “capping of years of mishandling of this question.”
But he concluded with a warning against a return to a right-wing leadership, adding that Labour’s Blairite wing are “bereft of any credible ideology.”