‘Very sad day’ for Labour as seven MPs quit party, Kezia Dugdale says
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said it is a “very sad day” after seven MPs resigned from the party.
Speaking at a cross-party People’s Vote campaign event, Ms Dugdale also indicated her belief that a growing number of MPs within the party support holding another vote on EU membership.
Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Chuka Umunna all announced their decision on Monday.
Lothian MSP Ms Dugdale said: “Each of the MPs that have left were outlining their own very personal reasons as to why they’ve left the Labour Party this morning.
“I think we’ve got to warn against any idea that the leadership should say ‘good riddance to them’ – I think it’s a very sad day.
“I want to see a Labour Party that’s a broad church, I think there’s a vast amount of support for a People’s Vote within that broad church.
“The motion which binds us all together, passed at our party’s conference, says a People’s Vote is very much on the table and that’s what I’m going to continue fighting for, alongside many other Labour colleagues.”
Ms Dugdale also indicated she had “never been more optimistic” of winning the support needed to hold a referendum, with the option of remaining in the EU.
“All the evidence I see is that the vast majority of Labour members back a People’s Vote,” said Ms Dugdale.
“They’re all vastly pro-European, you see increasing support for a People’s Vote amongst elected Labour parliamentarians – I believe there’s a majority of Labour MSPs in the Parliament that would back people having a final say.
“Crucially, over the weekend you saw a big development in the Scottish Parliamentary Labour group with Paul Sweeney saying that he would back a final say.
“That now means a majority of Scottish Labour MPs back it too, so the momentum towards a People’s Vote is growing within the Labour Party and, as a consequence, I think the likelihood of a People’s Vote happening across the country is also increasing.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about a People’s Vote taking place than I am today”.
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said he believes that, following discussions with Labour MPs at Westminster, many would indicate their support for having a referendum if it was put to a vote in the House of Commons.
“I get the opportunity these days to observe Labour Party discussions in Parliament at close quarters and I actually think that this argument is being overstated.
“That the fact that this split in the Labour Party is about Brexit or is about a People’s Vote, I don’t think there’s going to be any great consequences for our campaign from what’s happening in London today.
“We know that a vast range of Labour MPs right across the spectrum, including many of whom would regard themselves as being very close to the current Labour leadership, are concerned about Brexit and want to have a People’s Vote.
“So, when they get the opportunity to do so, I think you will see an expression from Labour MPs which is right across the board and isn’t related to the current split”.
Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said the resignation of the seven Labour MPs has not altered the campaign for having another vote on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Ms Jardine said: “Today’s a significant moment for the Labour Party and for British politics, and it must have been a very difficult decision for those seven Labour MPs to make, and I don’t think we should overlook that.
“I don’t think it damages in any way the People’s Vote because that’s entirely separate.
“We see every day the support within the Labour Party from people who haven’t left today, supporting a People’s Vote and who recognise that it’s a bad thing for the country.
“The call for a People’s Vote to resolve this situation is coming from right across the political spectrum and I don’t think what happens today has changed that at all”.