David Miliband panned and praised over 'what makes South Shields people angry' Brexit remarks

David Miliband.
David Miliband.

David Miliband said the things that make people in South Shields angry will be made worse by Brexit, not better. Facebook responded accordingly.

The ex-South Shields MP made the remarks in an interview with the BBC at the weekend, in which he repeated his calls for a second referendum - without no-deal on the ballot paper.

The former Foreign Secretary, who quit as an MP in 2013 to become chief executive of the International Rescue Committee in New York, said there were massive issues of unfairness in society which needed to be addressed, which he knew made people angry - but added Brexit was not the way to deal with those problems.

Mr Miliband brought former Prime Minister Sir John Major to the borough in September 2018 to give the annual South Shields Lecture at Harton Academy, where the pair made the case for a second referendum.

He reiterated his points in an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday in an interview with presenter Nick Robinson.

"My former constituency, South Shields, voted 65% to leave. And I continue to go back there, and I talk to people," he said.

"Far from being the salve that will address the problems of the country, Brexit compounds the problems that precisely the voters I used to appeal to in South Shields were most angry about."

Gazette readers had a mixed reaction to his remarks, and while some backed his stance on our Facebook page, many were angered by the ex-MP wading into the debate.

Ray Pritchard said: "Things that make South Shields people angry are rich people telling people who have nowt that they will have less than nowt."

Graham Slesser said: "The thing that makes me angry is someone who walks out on south shields for a job with a charity earning over half a million a year then poking his nose back in."

John Hallz said: "Before we joined the EEC we had loads of choice for work in this area at ship yards,steel works and foundries, three pits within 5 miles, work on the trawlers, and all the other factories round here.

"Then we joined the common market and hey presto it all disappeared. So tell me what your wonderful EU has done for us again Mr safe seat Milliband?"

James Sanderson said: "I always thought he would make a good PM but looks like he's turned his back on us and as for coming back to the South Shields to talk about Brexit, I've never heard anything. Can anyone tell me if they met with him because I've certainly never heard anything."

Roland Brown said he wanted "no deal and out".

But other readers disagreed.

David Word replied: "Until your job's gone."

Chris Jennings said: "This is what Farage and co want - ordinary folk who don’t even know each other hurling abuse.

"People need to respect opposing views. However I have not in three years heard a coherent argument to persuade me Brexit would bring a single economic benefit to South Tyneside - which needs job losses like a hole in the head. But I’m all ears."

Paul Winter said: "Why do Leavers see Milliband and MPs who support Remain as corrupt or 'the elite'?

"Over 16 million of us supported Remain, are we 'the elite' and corrupt?

"I and many others agree with Milliband that leaving the EU is unlikely to bring about economic benefits for South Shields. After Brexit we will still have a Tory government who are unlikely to invest here.

"The country and each area of the country is deeply divided and neither side, whether MPs or the public are able to compromise. The language use by the media, politicians and the public is atrocious and childish.

"How are those MPs that sincerely believe that Brexit will hurt the poorest in society traitors?

"How is it that Farage, Rees Mogg, Duncan Smith, Arron Banks and other elites from the right wing are seen as 'men of the people'?

"These men along with the owners of the right wing media who are pushing for Brexit will benefit from us leaving, but there is no evidence that the majority of us will.

"There is no 'will of the people', just a divided nation.

"Neither side has the moral high ground, just different ways of looking at the situation we are in and apportioning blame based on prejudices (not necessarily racist) rather than facts.

"There are no traitors and no one deserves death threats and the abuse that is hurled at people."