Commenting on the results of the European Elections which were announced on Monday, Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said:
The results of the Euro elections showed our country and our city remains firmly split on Brexit. The results were rubbish for Labour. We saw Labour supporters vote for other parties because they did not like our Brexit policy. I didn’t like it either which is why for the past few months I’ve been vocally calling for a public vote with remain as one of the options to break the Parliamentary deadlock on Brexit. The truth is there are no easy options ahead, no simple soundbite solutions, no get out of jail free cards. Every option is painful and difficult. What I also know is that the crises in Plymouth are being ignored by this Tory Government while Brexit dominates. So there isn’t the focus on the NHS crisis, the crisis in our social care, the crisis in funding our schools, the climate crisis nor the poverty caused by Universal Credit and the ongoing housing crisis. All these issues are being masked by Brexit. We need a way to break the deadlock.
Over the weekend I’ve been doing lots of media interviews. You may have seen my interviews on Spotlight or ITV Westcountry. I was also on BBC Sunday Politics where I called for Labour to be overtly supportive of a public vote and clear that in that referendum we would be backing remain.
I represent a seat where a third of people voted to remain in 2016, just under a third chose not to vote and just over a third voted to leave. On Thursday two thirds of the people I represent chose not to vote. Politics is a mess and so is Brexit. We need to find a way to break the deadlock as at the moment neither a credible Brexit option nor a public vote can win enough support in Parliament alone. That is why I think the only way to break the deadlock is to let the public decide.
Plymouth, like the country, is polarising. The options for a softer Brexit are being squeezed out. Despite the Leave campaign saying in the referendum that we would leave with a deal, many people are interpreting the result as a vote for no deal, even though the Leave campaign ruled that out. If leading Leavers can change their mind about what Leave means, then so can the British public. I am also seeing more people who want to remain by revoking Article 50 after a public vote. I am no fan of Brexit but I am trying to do my best to listen to all the different perspectives in this debate – and there are at least a dozen different Brexit options being promoted so it is far from an argument with only two sides in.
Brexit is a mess and I want to see a way out of this mess. If MPs cannot decide then it is right that the public get the final say. I am expecting Labour to come out for a public vote in a clearer way than we have seen to date and be clear that remain must be one of the options. The most right wing of the Tory leadership contenders might win the contest to succeed Theresa May, so Labour needs a credible alternative position.
I was very sad to see the brilliant Clare Moody lose her seat to Anne Widecombe and her anti-LGBT views. But I was pleased that, as expected, the south west rejected the vile hate of the lead UKIP candidate who publicly mused on whether to rape a woman or not. He should play no further part in public life.