Barry Gardiner leaves Labour remainers reeling by backing Brexit
Watch: The Labour front bencher had an interesting argument against a second referendum.
“If Labour becomes an accomplice to Brexit, it is finished,” Andrew Adonis told The Guardian yesterday.
The Blairite peer was speaking as a YouGov poll put the Conservatives ahead by four points in a snap election should Labour adopt an anti-Brexit position. But Labour’s international trade secretary is clearly having none of it.
Rather Barry Gardiner poured several buckets of cold water on the idea that Labour might possibly soften its Brexit position as he appeared on the Today programme on Tuesday morning.
Having acknowledged that the country will be “worse off economically as a result of Brexit”, the Labour MP then made the dubious argument that a referendum on the terms of the deal would not be democratic.
"There is also the social, the democratic principles at play here. If you then say to people 'We did give you a vote and actually we, the Remainers, lost the vote, but because you were stupid enough to do what you wanted rather than what we wanted... ' that undermines the whole principle of democracy in this country," he declared.
"You never give as much succour to the extreme right as when you cut off the mechanism of democratic change."
Among the listening Labour MPs left reeling by Gardiner’s argument was Ben Bradshaw. "I’m afraid Barry Gardiner in defending Brexit whatever the cost on democratic grounds completely ignores the democratic right of the people to change their minds," fumed the former culture secretary on Twitter.
"Interesting that Barry Gardiner seems to believe that a democracy cannot change its mind. Beginning to splutter now," piped up europhile former minister Denis MacShane.
Earlier this year, Gardiner was famously found to have described one of his party’s six tests for judging the final Brexit deal as “bollocks”. After his appearance on the Today programme, Remain-supporting Labour types will be hoping that Gardiner is once again not on the same page as the rest of the front bench…