The European election results strengthen the case for second public vote on Brexit, argues Sedgefield’s Labour MP Phil Wilson.

SEVERAL months ago, I launched a compromise plan that would have meant any agreed Brexit deal could be approved by Parliament subject to it being signed off by the British people in a new public vote.

It was an attempt to solve the Brexit impasse, to take power away from hard-line politicians seeking to manipulate the answer of the 2016 referendum and provide clarity on the way forward. If Theresa May had embraced this solution, we might be on our way out of the crisis rather than her being on her way out of Downing Street.

Sunday’s results from the European elections are directly linked to the failure of the government to force its deal through Parliament even though it was obvious it did not have a majority and, I am afraid to say Labour’s failure to campaign whole-heartedly for giving the public the final say.

The Northern Echo:

The five main parties supporting a People’s Vote – including the Liberal Democrats and the Greens – increased their share of the vote by 18 per cent in the North-East compared to 16 per cent for no-deal parties like the Brexit Party. The former was largely at the expense of Labour and the latter at the expense of the Conservatives.

This pattern was repeated around the country with a bigger vote share increase for People’s Vote-supporting parties than no-deal parties in every region.

In Newcastle, the North-East’s largest city, the Brexit Party’s vote of 27 per cent was dwarfed by the People’s Vote supporting parties of the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Change UK, with 37.8 per cent.

Both Labour and the Conservatives suffered through a lack of clarity and conviction. Those qualities enable an elected representative like me to say this is who I am, this is the party I represent, this is what we stand for and we hope you will stand beside us. Just as voters don’t vote for divided parties, they don’t vote for divided opinions either.

It is critical that Labour’s official policy better reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of our members and supporters in the North-East and across the UK. We must move quickly and decisively to prevent both millions of Labour voters settling with another party and the disaster of the EU elections becoming the disaster of a general election.

It is time for Labour leadership to listen to the voices of the many and not the few unelected officials who are damaging our party, for I am worried about the direction in which we are headed.

Never again can Labour policy on the most crucial issue of our time leave us on the wrong side of history. We need to the party that leads the fight back against Nigel Farage and his latest attempt to make the politics of hatred and bigotry look normal and respectable. We need to fight back against those happy to gamble with our economy which at this very moment has 25 000 people at risk of losing their job through the collapse of British Steel.

LEADERSHIP contenders in the Conservatives Party are set to now compete against each other to emulate the populism of Nigel Farage, who in turn seeks to emulate Donald Trump. Farage may have won the most votes in a low-turn-out election, but he did not win a majority for this dark vision of Brexit any more than there was a mandate for it in the last referendum – when a no-deal Brexit was scarcely discussed.

His plan will see the North-East being hit first and worst with a 10.5 per cent drop in the value of our economy according to the Government’s own reports, or a £7bn drop according to the Chamber of British Industry, which equals twice the amount we spend on schools and education each year.

Instead, it’s time to recognise the only democratic way to solve this crisis and establish a lasting settlement over Brexit, is to put this crucial question back to the people.

Whether you want to leave the EU or to stay in, a People’s Vote can unlock the Brexit process in Parliament, secure a stable majority in Westminster and legitimise the outcome.

We need to use the aftermath of these elections to end the chaos around Brexit. We need to listen and to change. We need to hand this decision back to the people.