Jeremy Corbyn: Long-Bailey says issue ‘could have been avoided’
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Ms Flint lost her seat in 2019 after representing the people of Don Valley, Doncaster, for more than 20 years. For months before the election, Ms Flint warned over the damage former leader Mr Corbyn‘s murky and ever-changing Brexit chance would have on the party. This was especially true of its North of England heartlands – the Red Wall – as well as the Midlands.
Ms Flint was one of six Labour MPs who rebelled against Mr Corbyn’s wishes and voted against the Letwin amendment to the Government’s Brexit deal in October 2019 – not the first time she had defied Mr Corbyn and the party’s ardent Remainers.
Writing for The Guardian in the aftermath of Labour’s decimation, Ms Flint spoke of how nearly every constituent she spoke to in the run-up to the ballot had a “relentless hostility’ towards Mr Corbyn.
In response to his claim that Labour had pushed “the biggest campaign this party has ever mounted,” she said, “It wasn’t”.
Noting that many in her former constituency did not believe that Labour had costed all of its promises – “free childcare, free tuition fees, free transport, free broadband” – she said Mr Corbyn’s lack of Brexit vision only cemented the party’s fall.
Brexit news: Caroline Flint pinpointed how Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit failures led to the party’s demise (Image: GETTY)
Labour Party: Flint served as MP for Don Valley from 1997 to 2019 (Image: GETTY)
Ms Flint wrote: “I had warned that if [Brexit went] unresolved, it would be fatal.
“And it was Brexit that cemented Labour’s undoing – including in my own seat.
“In March, I wrote: ‘Every Labour MP will face voters who ask: ‘Did you vote to back Brexit or did you vote to stop it?’ Voters did not like our answers.
“We lost 59 seats, mainly in Leave areas.
Corbyn: The former leader was a lifelong eurosceptic until it came to the 2016 vote (Image: GETTY)
“And it could have been so much worse.
“My neighbour Ed Miliband’s 14,000 majority in Doncaster became 2,370.
“Yvette Cooper’s majority of 14,499 in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford was reduced to 1,276.
“Labour chair Ian Lavery’s 10,000 in Wansbeck is now just 814 votes.”
Like many, she said Brexit exposed Mr Corbyn’s weakness: “The yo-yo policy, mixed messages, endless conditions – always failing to agree a Brexit deal, followed by support for a second referendum, in which he would be neutral.”
His failure to get a grip on a definitive policy led to the Conservatives under Boris Johnson appealing to millions of working class voters – something almost unbelievable.
Paul Embery, a leading trade unionist and Labour member, told Express.co.uk that Mr Corbyn had been placed under “ideological house arrest” in regards to his Brexit stance.
The former leader had been a lifelong eurosceptic, voting “No” to Europe in the 1975 membership referendum.
General election: Corbyn pictured on the night of the election results (Image: GETTY)
Ed Miliband: Flint pictured with former leader Miliband (Image: PA)
Yet, as Mr Embery explained: “Someone once put it that Corbyn was placed under ideological house arrest by the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
“And because the PLP, in some cases, were so fanatically pro-EU, Corbyn – who of course, was a lifelong Brexiteer, and privately still is – was forced to back Remain.
“Others like John McDonnell, his right-hand man, were also Brexiteers, and I think they calculated that if they came out for Leave, they’d get crucified by their MPs.”
But this came at a cost.
Ms Flint wrote of how Labour had “apparently beat the Tories on social media,” but, “where their message was targeted at new voters, ours was an echo chamber of those already voting Labour”.
Keir Starmer: Like his predecessor, Starmer has flip-flopped on his Brexit policy (Image: Express Newspaper)
In what perhaps best sums up Labour’s failure, the politician recalled a meeting with Mr Corbyn when he visited Doncaster in late 2019.
She said: “In the relentless rain and dark nights, many candidates found volunteers thin on the ground.
“While visiting flood victims in Doncaster, Jeremy told me that ‘we had 500 people out in Chingford’ – Iain Duncan Smith’s outer London seat.
“‘You won’t find that here,’ I replied.
UK politics: Flint said Labour had become an echo chamber (Image: GETTY)
“And we didn’t win Chingford either.”
The 2019 election was Labour’s worst since 1935.
Ms Flint will take part in Celebrity Mastermind at 5.45pm on BBC One.