Sir Keir was this week called on by allies of former leader Jeremy Corbyn to apologise for leapfrogging between Brexit policies. It came as veteran members of the party claimed the leader’s decision to offer voters a second referendum decimated Labour’s so-called northern Red Wall in the Midlands and north. Ian Lavery, Jon Trickett and Laura Smith filed a report into attitudes to the party among its supporters, with it writing an op-ed in HuffPost UK.
On winning the Labour leadership race, Sir Keir told members it was time to accept the Brexit result – despite only months before advocating a second vote.
The trio who penned the article – all of whom were frontbenchers under Mr Corbyn – are not the first to call-out Sir Keir on his Brexit policy.
Mr Corbyn’s initial suggestions of accepting the vote and moving to get a good deal resulted in severe pushback, including from Sir Keir.
The pressure from many Labour MPs forced Mr Corbyn’s hand to pursue a policy for a second vote.
This was much to the dismay of Labour’s voting base, a significant proportion of which voted Leave.
Many, including Mr Lavery, say this ultimately cost Labour its previously safe territory of the north of England.
It isn’t the first time Sir Keir has been accused of backtracking on vital policy details.
Andrew Pierce in a piece for the Daily Mail accused him of “flip-flopping” during his time under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
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Mr Pierce asked: “Had Starmer missed the limelight? Had he baulked at the idea of a three-year, behind-the-scenes campaign to try to establish himself as the grassroots’ favourite to be the next Labour leader?
“Or had he simply been bought off by Corbyn with a plum Shadow Cabinet job?”
He added: “Only the suave, Oxford-educated lawyer himself can give the true answer.”
Meanwhile, the document drawn up by Mr Lavery, Mr Trickett and Ms Smith claims a considerable element of Labour’s 2019 failure among the working-classes was due to its Brexit approach.
In the article published to HuffPost, they wrote: “Labour got it wrong on a second referendum.
“The party went against one of the only times in recent history that people felt they could finally express their justified anger at the present political system.
“To rebuild trust that has been lost and restore people’s trust in politics, Labour should say sorry. This is not only about Labour winning elections but restoring faith in democracy.
“We do not believe that the party can move on until it has put this issue behind us.”
They added: “The country, our voters and our activists all deserve an explanation and perhaps an apology by the party for our actions in the years after the referendum up until the December election.”
Labour suffered its worst defeat since 1935 in the 2019 election.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson now sees himself as a leader with one of the biggest Tory majorities since Margaret Thatcher was in Downing Street.