As our free and fearless press continues its claim that Labour has changed its position on Brexit - which, as I pointed out yesterday, it hasn’t - some at the fringe of the party have seen this as a stick with which to beat the leadership. And there is no Labour MP more keen on beating up on his party leadership than John Mann, who has decided that he is against any second referendum, because, well, he is. So there.
Mann was interviewed by Adam Boulton of Sky News on the subject, and this is what he had to say. “This is a London centric Labour Party these days. Vast number of the members are in London as opposed to the North [no citation]. They decide the policies. Most of the shadow cabinet is London living or London MPs. This is the metropolitan Labour Party. It’s got nothing to do with Labour voters in my area”. And there was more.
“And they will use their votes in different ways”. Boulton interjected “You see, all the evidence is that 75% of Labour voters actually backed Remain” [actually 65%]. Mann was indignant. “That’s not what the evidence is at all. That’s based on one poll … Let me give you my analysis … where we sample the boxes [what?] and we ask voters and we continually track them. We track them month in, month out”. And yet more.
“I can tell you how the Labour voters in my area have been - they haven’t changed since the referendum. 70% of my constituents voted to Leave [it was, in fact, 67.8%], but in the strongest Labour areas it is 91% [no citation] and they haven’t changed their minds. So let’s be quite clear. In the North and the Midlands, the overwhelming majority of Labour voters voted to Leave [no citation - again]”.
This was delivered most assertively. But Mann has ponied up no evidence whatsoever. What does he mean “sample the boxes”? How does he know whose vote is which? What credible and reliable polling has he done, or had done on his behalf, over the period since the referendum? But we won’t be finding any of that out any time soon.
So let’s deal with some actual facts, which can be backed up by reasonably reliable citations. One, Remain has an overall lead in opinion polls conducted since 2017 in a straight choice between that and Leave, with the last poll giving Remain a 4% lead.
Two, 65% of Labour voters voted Remain in 2016. Three, analysis for Best for Britain and Hope Not Hate last year concluded “The 2017 Labour voters who voted Leave in the EU Referendum are shifting dramatically. Our polling shows that only 71% of these voters would back Leave in a new referendum, with the biggest movement occurring among poorer white working class voters”. Haven’t changed their minds, eh?
Four, only last November the Guardian reported that “A majority of voters in all seats held by Labour support a second referendum on Brexit, according to an analysis released by the People’s Vote campaign as it steps up its lobbying of opposition MPs”. “All seats held by Labour” would include Bassetlaw. And, as for Labour members, well.
Five, last month the Independent told “Now it’s official: Labour Party members hate Brexit. Some 72 per cent want a Final Say referendum and 88 per cent would back Remain in such a vote, according to today’s YouGov survey for the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Party Members Project”. John Mann is well and truly bust.
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