Keir Starmer warns Labour 'cannot allow the party to break up' over Brexit

Posted On: 
25th March 2018

Keir Starmer has warned Labour colleagues they cannot allow Brexit to tear the party apart.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer warned colleagues not to 'allow the Labour party to divide and break up' over Brexit.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary spoke out on the same day Jeremy Corbyn sacked Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith for backing a second referendum on Britain's relationship with Brussels.

In an interview with the Observer conducted on Friday, Mr Starmer made clear he was not in favour of a second vote, even though he would rather Brexit was not happening. 

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“Having asked the electorate for a view by way of the referendum, we have to respect the result,” he said. 

“If you find yourself in a position you would rather was not there, you have to make it work. We have to do that for the current generation and for future generations.”

And he admitted the leadership faced a difficult task keeping the peace with MPs and members who would prefer to block the UK's withdrawal from the bloc.

“My view has been informed by my strong belief that we really cannot allow the Labour party to divide and break up on this issue. We have got to hold the party together, and of course that means there are huge challenges.

“Is it difficult? Of course it’s difficult,” Mr Starmer added 

“Almost everybody in the Labour party has a view on Brexit. But almost no (two) people have the same view. They all give me their opinions all of the time in texts, in emails, in one-to- one conversations, in groups.”

His remarks come amid new claims that the Vote Leave campaign may have breached spending limits by funnelling cash to satellite group BeLeave.

Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, who was initially a volunteer for the group, told Channel 4 the result of the referendum "wasn't legitimate" as a result.

The allegations, broadcast by Channel 4, were described as "ludicrous" by Boris Johnson.