- Shadow Minister warns his leader Jeremy Corbyn that the Labour party will suffer the same fate as the Liberal Democrats if they allow a “Tory Brexit.”
- Clive Lewis suggests the party will be similarly “utterly and comprehensively destroyed” if it allows Theresa May’s Brexit deal to pass.
- The comments come as 10 Labour frontbenchers threaten to resign in protest at Labour’s Brexit policy.
- The Labour leader has resisted calls to explicitly back a second Brexit referendum.
LONDON – The Labour Party risks being “utterly and comprehensively destroyed” at the next general election if it allows Theresa May’s Brexit deal to pass, a shadow minister and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, has warned.
Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewis told a meeting in the Houses of Parliament on Thursday that if Labour allows a “Tory Brexit” to go ahead, they risk the same “severe” fate as the Liberal Democrats, whose public support plummeted after entering into coalition government with the Conservative party.
“My fear is we know what the Conservatives did to the Liberal Democrats…” he told a meeting titled Love Socialism, Hate Brexit, organised by pro-EU Labour MPs.
“They were utterly and comprehensively destroyed by the British public and were not forgiven because they facilitated austerity.
“They facilitated the Tories doing that. And my fear is that what we are now doing, is helping to facilitate a Tory Brexit and the ramifications for our party I think will be severe.”
The MP for Norwich South’s remarks come amid growing fear among pro-EU Labour MPs that Corbyn could offer his support to the prime minister’s deal in the coming weeks and frustration with his refusal to back a new referendum.
Lewis added: “And just like the Lib Dems, when Theresa May has bogged off somewhere to put her trotters up after she has delivered her Brexit, and a new Tory leader comes in, they will say ‘you know what, she was a disaster for this country, she betrayed this country, but so to was the leader of the opposition. He was part of this sorry debacle and I’m now going to move forward to try resolve this situation in the best way I can.’
“And I tell you what, the Tory right-wing mainstream media will get behind that narrative and it is us, the Labour Party, that will pick up a lot of the flack for what happens.”
The comments also come as reports suggest that at least 10 members of Corbyn’s frontbench team could resign if the Labour leader fails to throw his support behind a second referendum, or what campaigners call a “People’s Vote.”
The Labour leader is committed to keeping the option of another Brexit vote “on the table,” but has so far resisted calls to explicitly back another public vote on the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.
Sources close to Corbyn have told Business Insider that they fear a larger number of Labour frontbenchers could resign if Labour does throw its full support for a so-called People’s Vote.
The Labour leader enraged supporters of a People’s Vote in his party last week after sending a letter to the prime minister in which he suggested that Labour could back May’s Brexit deal if she drops her opposition to staying in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
This week Labour members wrote to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell warning him that Labour’s Brexit plan would damage the economy and leave a Labour government with signifcantly less money to implement its anifesto spending commitments.