By Molly Ambler
More turmoil ahead expected for the Labour party with the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, warning that the party is unable to win a general election. Her comments urged the party to stand their ground in the wake of Brexit and refrain from moving further right in regards to their stance on immigration.
Abbott said “We can’t fight and win an election in 2020 as UKIP-lite.
The idea that moving right on immigration in post-industrial Britain will save us seats is I think misconceived.”
She furthered her stance on immigration claiming that “It is absolutely fair to say that on doorsteps colleagues are finding people complaining about immigration, but it is simply not the case that immigration has driven down wages, or that immigration has created the insecurity or instability they perceive.”
Her comments were made as other senior politicians were accused of paving the way for a “hard” Brexit and adopting a more populist tone.
Abbotts’ response has caused controversy among many senior politicians within the Labour party.
This included former shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, who, in September stated, “We need to have some controls on immigration. You can’t just close down that discussion or label people as racist if they say that.”
These comments were made in the wake of a speech made by shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, which urged Labour to “embrace the enormous opportunities” in the wake of Brexit.
Mr McDonnell also managed to inflame many of his own backbenchers by suggesting that they were siding with “corporate elites”, something a number of UKIP politicians have been accused of in the past.
A number of former shadow ministers have said that this particular shift in the Labour party would make it easier for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to pursue the “hard” Brexit she appears to be driving towards.
The Labour party, alongside the support of 30 Conservative MP’s and other parties, could vote to remain as close to the single market as possible as a means to protect trade agreements and UK jobs: coined a “soft” Brexit.
Former shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie said, “Labour has got to intervene in this process, to protect the economy and public services from the hard landing likely as we fall out of the European Union.”
A former local government spokeswoman Emma Reynolds condemned “simplistic solutions offered by right-wing populists, who have successfully constructed a powerful narrative that we are a self-serving and out-of-touch elite”, in an article highlighting the dangers of Labour learning the wrong lessons from the result of Brexit and the US presidential elections.
MPs that have criticized Mr McDonnell insist that they have accepted the referendum vote, however, they do not believe that their party should merely just accept a “hard” Brexit, giving the PM a free hand to ending freedom of movement no matter the costs to other areas of Brexit.