Brexit backlash hits Labour Party hard
Morning Star

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper, before final official results of the elections in the UK were available. We will have updated and more detailed coverage and analysis next week.

Exit polls have suggested a Tory landslide, with Leave-voting areas switching away from Labour according to predictions.

A visibly shocked Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC that “Brexit has dominated” the election, as polls suggested a 86 seat majority for the Tories.

“We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate, from this evidence there clearly wasn’t,” the shadow chancellor said.

If the actual result resembles the prediction, Labour will lose 52 seats, putting it on course for its worst result in terms of seats since 1935 following its decision to campaign for a second referendum on EU membership.

Many are in the northeast of England, constituencies which voted predominantly for Leave, such as historical mining constituency Blyth Valley.

McDonnell added that he had doubts “Brexit will be done as a result of this.”

“I think what will happen… people, I think, almost in despair, wanted to get Brexit over and done with because they’ve had enough of what’s been going on.”

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgeon also suggested that Brexit dictated the vote.

He Tweeted: “If, as it seems, this was a Brexit election then the next one won’t be given Johnson’s Thatcherite agenda.”

But he vowed to continue the fight against the Tories.

His fighting spirit was shared by shadow education minister Angela Rayner who said: “I know the exit poll is incredibly devastating but we will continue to keep faith in our great movement and the UK.” She also thanked the volunteers, staff and activists for “working their socks off” for a Labour government.

According to the exit poll, politicians including Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson have lost their seats.

McDonnell warned that the result would put “the most right-wing extreme cabinet that we’ve seen in our history” in power who would have the mandate to introduce “reactionary policies.”

“If the electorate have decided this way, that’s democracy, you have to respect it,” he said. “But I don’t think it will bring the country together, I think it will be divided still.”

The urgent task now is to build mass campaigning movements, Communist Party of Britain General Secretary Robert Griffiths said yesterday. The CP’s political committee will meet on Monday to assess the threats posed by the outcome of the general election. In a statement, Griffiths said: “Undoubtedly, the result was a defeat for class politics and for Labour’s left and progressive program.

“It changes the political landscape in England, Scotland and Wales. A majority Conservative government will now seek to roll back rights, including the right to strike, and to recommence the ruling-class program of privatization. But equally, despite the hostility of powerful forces in the establishment, big business and the mass media, millions of people have voted for Labour’s radical manifesto. This must now be built upon.”

Griffiths said there were a number of factors behind Labour’s defeat, including the “relentless state-sponsored and media attacks” on Jeremy Corbyn’s character and on Labour’s economic and social policies.

He said: “The disunity promoted by those fanatically pro-EU elements who maneuvered the party into a position where it was seen by many working-class electors as a ‘Stop Brexit’ party also played a major part.

“In this new political situation, the CP will be redoubling its efforts to strengthen the labour movement, including the trade unions, many of which played a splendid role during the six-week general-election campaign.

“Now is a time for rebuilding, extending and developing Britain’s extra-parliamentary mass movements in working-class communities. In particular, we look forward to working even more diligently with and in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the peace and anti-racist movements, the National Assembly of Women and the Left Campaign for a People’s Brexit.

“We should also note one important lesson from the general-election result and its main causes—the urgent need in England, Scotland and Wales for a much stronger, more influential CP and a much wider readership of Britain’s only daily socialist paper: the Morning Star.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Morning Star
Morning Star

The Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

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