'Some of us saw it coming - we were ignored' - South Shields MP speaks out after review of Labour's election defeat
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has said she foresaw Labour’s General Election disaster – but was ignored and silenced when she spoke out about the party’s stance on Brexit.
Ms Lewell-Buck was speaking after a review into the party’s 2019 defeat stated the party has a "mountain to climb" after slumping to its lowest number of seats since 1935 in December's poll.
A report from The Labour Together project said the historic defeat had been a "long time coming" and deep-seated changes were needed.
The South Shields MP campaigned for Remain during the 2016 EU Referendum, but later refused to back calls for a second referendum and said she was respecting the views of voters in her constituency, which had a majority Leave.
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The Labour MP said her party’s stance on Brexit had cost millions of votes.
"Labour lost around 1.7million Leave voters; and around 1million Remain voters,” she said.
"A small group of us knew this was going to happen. We were ignored and attempts made to silence us just because we wanted to do right by our constituents.
"We knew the difference a Labour Government would make, we wanted to win and we knew the route didn't involve ignoring the Referendum.
Labour's defeat led to the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, and his replacement by Sir Keir Starmer in April 2020.
The Labour Together report, which was mostly compiled before the coronavirus pandemic, warned "disunity and division within our party over time has badly damaged our electoral fortunes".
Commissioners of the review agreed it would "be a mistake to believe that a different leader, with Brexit no longer the defining issue, would in itself be sufficient to change Labour's electoral fortunes".
Ms Lewell-Buck agreed. She said: "Divisions and factionalism undermined our election readiness. This, long term, has and will continue to cause us the most damage.
"For too long, deep-seated factionalism has damaged CLPs across the country.
"This was not something new that appeared under Jeremy Corbyn. Any leader who wants us to win needs to fully address these long-standing entrenched problems because it costs us members and support in every CLP where it has been left to fester."