Three former members of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet have called on Sir Keir to apologise for the party’s previous position on Brexit in a bid to rebuild trust from so-called “red wall” voters – traditional Labour supporters who felt betrayed by the second referendum policy. Ian Lavery, Jon Trickett and Laura Smith said working-class Leave voters remain “highly sceptical” about Labour, which went into the election promising a fresh Brexit vote.
Sir Keir, who was Mr Corbyn’s shadow Brexit secretary, played a major role in getting the party to campaign for a second referendum.
Mr Lavery, a former party chairman, and Mr Trickett were in the shadow cabinet at the time, while Ms Smith – who lost her seat in the election – was a more junior frontbencher.
They have insisted the new leader cannot “bury this under the carpet”.
They said: “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.”
The three are behind a report called ‘No Holding Back’, which highlights how the party’s manifesto pledge to go for a second Brexit vote lost previously safe Labour seats across the north and the Midlands.
The report said re-building trust within the party will be crucial in challenging the Tories at the polls next time around.
It said: “Leave voters were too often sneered at and Remain voters were led up the garden path with a position – of overturning the referendum result – that was never seriously achievable.
“To put this aside, Leavers and Remainers need an apology.”
It continued: “We do not believe that the party can move on until it has put this issue behind us.
“For those who will say that the matter is behind us and we should move on, we say it will not do to whitewash or to ignore the recent past.
“It must be a settling of accounts with Leavers, of course – but also with the Remainers, some of whom were falsely led to believe that we might be able to Remain.
“And we must apologise to our activists who often had very difficult encounters on the doorsteps.”
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Labour suffered its worst defeat since the 1930s at last December’s election which led to Mr Corbyn’s resignation.
Sir Keir was elected as the party leader and removed several of Mr Corbyn’s allies from key positions.
Mr Corbyn has since been suspended from the party after claiming the findings from a report into anti-Semitism in the party had been overstated.