Rebecca Long-Bailey says 'jury's out' on Keir Starmer's future
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Britain voted by a slim margin of 55 percent (17.4million votes) to 45 percent (16.1million votes) to leave the European Union during the historic referendum of 2016. The Labour Party strongly opposed Brexit from the start, with Sir Keir Starmer, who was Shadow Brexit Secretary at the time, continuing to campaign for a second referendum on EU membership and thus possible reverse the Brexit result. But now the current Labour leader heads into the crunch Batley and Spen by-election in West Yorkshire with a warning from arch rival George Galloway that his stance on trying to overturn Brexit could be the final knockout blow for him.
Sir Keir is already reeling from the humiliation of the Hartlepool by-election Labour had held since 1974 when it was first introduced.
This area in the North of England is seen as a key pillar in Labour’s once untouchable Red Wall, which is now crumbling down at an alarming rate.
Tracy Brabin has been Labour’s MP in Batley and Spen since 2016, but after winning the recent West Yorkshire mayor contest, and with her new role including police and crime commissioner powers, she is not able to hold both roles at the same time, meaning a by-election will be triggered.
During the general election of 2017, Ms Brabin held the seat with an 8,961 majority but two years later in 2019, this more than halved to 3,525 – 70 less than what Labour had held before last week’s Hartlepool by-election.
Mr Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain is contesting the Batley and Spen by-election, and he has warned voters in the Red Wall constituency have turned against Sir Keir over his attempts to reverse Brexit in an area of country that voted to leave the EU.
The former Labour MP told Express.co.uk: “Starmer is the architect of Labour’s Brexit disaster.
“If Labour had embraced the Brexit decision – even if they didn’t like it – and said the people had spoken and their will must be implemented, they would be in a far better position than they are today.
“Instead, under Starmer’s forensic guidance, they did everything possible to destroy Brexit and overturn the result of the Brexit referendum.
“They did everything possible to cheat 17.4m people out of what they had voted for.
“That will never be forgiven, it’s a jam and they can’t get away from it.
“Everyone in the north that voted for Brexit knows Keir Starmer’s Labour tried to cheat them out of what they voted for, and you don’t get forgiven for that sort of thing quickly.”
Mr Galloway warned a repeat of the Hartlepool by-election humiliation could be the final blow for Sir Keir and end his short reign as Labour leader, possibly led via a leadership challenge from his own deputy Angela Rayner.
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He has warned a defeat in the upcoming Batley and Spen by-election would “plunge Labour into chaos” and the voters in the Red Wall constituency are “looking for revenge” after believing the party has “neglected them, abandoned them and perhaps betrayed them”.
The Workers Party of Britain founder said: “We have a lot of members in West Yorkshire.
“It’s a pro-Brexit area that has been let down by Labour and like much of the north, has fallen madly out of love with the party.
“Whoever Labour put up as their candidate will be fighting Keir Starmer because we think he is a disaster”.
Mr Galloway added: “The Hartlepool by-election defeat was a massive disaster for Labour and if that were to happen in Batley and Spen, he could be done for.
“A leadership challenge could be launched, led possibly by Angela Rayner.
“He is badly damaged and this could be the knockout blow if he loses this one, so hot on the heels of the Hartlepool by-election.
“They are in very real trouble – it will plunge Labour into chaos if they lose it.
“A lot of people in Batley and Spen feel like Labour has neglected them, abandoned them and perhaps betrayed them, and are looking for revenge.”
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