Chuka Umunna: Rise of Ukip means there are ‘no safe Labour seats’

Posted On: 
2nd December 2016

Chuka Umunna has said there are "no safe Labour seats" following the vote to quit the EU, and that his party should get behind Brexit.

Chuka Umunna has called on Labour MPs to respect the Brexit vote
Credit: 
PA Images

The former frontbencher said the 23 June vote meant Ukip was now “a danger to the Labour Party, not just in the north but in the south as well”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, he warned: “There are no safe seats for Labour any more.”

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Mr Umunna called on his colleagues to respect the outcome of the referendum, adding that the party needed to “understand” the concerns of the 52% of voters who backed Brexit.

“Remain didn’t lose by a landslide but was clearly defeated at the ballot box on 23 June,” he said.

“I think it’s really important we listen and more deeply understand why people took a different view to us.”

He added: “The 52% are no more a bunch of racists and bigots than the 48% are a well-heeled metropolitan elite. I have no time for either characterisation.”

'WE ARE GOING TO LEAVE'

Mr Umunna, who stood down as shadow business secretary after Jeremy Corbyn's win as Labour leader, condemned calls by some pro Remain voices for a second referendum.

“I really have no time for calls for a second referendum because I think it comes across as disrespectful to those who voted to leave,” he said.

“Those calls reinforce what I feel is a false stereotype — of a bunch of people in London who think they know best.”

He went on: “We are going to leave — it hurts me to say that — but we have got to move forward and work out how to get the best possible deal.”

His comments follow the vow by newly installed Ukip leader Paul Nuttall to take seats from Labour's traditional heartlands.

Speaking after his election as leader, he said: “My ambition is not insignificant: I want to replace the Labour party and make Ukip the patriotic voice of working people.”

Bootle-born Mr Nuttall said Mr Corbyn, by contrast, was more interested in “dinner party” topics such as climate change and fair trade than immigration, crime and social mobility.

But Mr Umunna said his leader should be given “the chance to show what he can do”, labelling the leadership battle that had engulfed the party a “settled issue”.

He also suggested Tony Blair’s government lost trust in Labour strongholds by underplaying the number of migrants likely to come from EU accession countries such as Poland and Bulgaria.

“That one mistake, among all the many good things that the last Labour government did, may I think have been the biggest driver of why we left the European Union,” he said.