Politics Explained

Why some Labour MPs think it’s their fault we’re heading for a hard Brexit

John Rentoul explores claims made by a Labour former cabinet minister that the party may have inadvertently helped the cause of the Eurosceptic wing of the Tories

Friday 04 December 2020 23:55
<p>Peter Mandelson hasn’t lost his capacity for throwing incendiary truths into political debate&nbsp;</p>

Peter Mandelson hasn’t lost his capacity for throwing incendiary truths into political debate 

Peter Mandelson caused a stir this week by suggesting that Remainers, by campaigning to reverse the referendum decision, helped bring about a more damaging form of Brexit than was necessary. 

The Labour former cabinet minister and EU trade commissioner said the “triumph of hardline Tory Brexiters” was the price the “pro-EU camp will pay for trying to reverse the referendum decision rather than achieve the least damaging form of Brexit”. The country could have had Theresa May’s compromise, which would have kept Britain in the EU customs union, at least temporarily, but in the next few days is likely to end up with “a very hard Brexit, mitigated only by a barebones deal”.

Lord Mandelson went on: “As someone who was firmly in the reversal camp, I played my part in this outcome.” The shock of a politician appearing to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions has proved too much for many of his enemies and for some of his friends. Especially when he added: “Yet if I could turn the clock back, I have little doubt I would do the same again.”

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