Yes, Starmer should apologise for Labour’s Brexit stance.
Labour abandoned its commitment to accepting the referendum result, and a compromise Brexit; this caused terminal electoral rot.
No matter how much centrist People’s Vote bankrolled pundits crow and crow about how Corbynism dashed their prospect for a glorious second referendum, the stone cold truth is this: Labour’s evolving Brexit policy was the root cause of Labour’s decline from being poised to form a government under Jeremy Corbyn through 2017–18 to alienating key support and loosing in a landslide to an Etonian charlatan.
If you look, the decline in perception of Jeremy Corbyn (spearheaded by a media onslaught and undoubtedly a key factor on the doorstep last December) was driven by lack of leadership on the key issue of the day, in turn driven by pressure from People’s Vote folks, who weaponised Brexit to alienate Corbyn from the Labour grassroots, and to push the dial further and further until anything other than a second referendum would face conference mutiny.
The irony of those friendly to the EU pushing and pushing, so instead of a soft Brexit that protects rights and standards, we now have a Brexit that turns us in the Cayman Islands, doesn’t go amiss here.
There have been calls in some quarters for Keir Starmer to apologise for his role as the key spearhead of Labour’s disastrous compromise Brexit position, one that annoyed Remain people, and was a middle finger to Labour Leave voters and indeed socialist Lexiteers. These calls are right, and he should apologise to voters; this can set it to bed and make clear to those elements of the electorate that abandoned Labour, that Labour will never again ignore democracy.
The sheer hypocrisy and opportunism of the Labour right is on show: desperately anti-Brexit at any cost during the Corbyn years, and now he’s gone barely batting an eyelid at a looming hard exit and pushing Johnson to get on with it.
These people were always bad faith actors on this issue and the leadership shouldn’t have engaged on their terms, got out in front, and made clear they would work with the May government to get a compromise Brexit over the line, and made an eloquent case to younger, passionate Remain voters that any deviation from the referendum result would cost the Corbyn project any chance of taking power.
Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing. And don’t expect so much as an admission of regret from Starmer and the wealthy People’s Vote liberals.