Angela Rayner asked about Brexit by LBC caller
Angela Rayner was forced to defend Labour’s Brexit policy after being put on the spot by a furious LBC caller today.
The deputy Labour leader, who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, was asked about comments by Tory MP Tobias Ellwood that Brexit is a “mistake” as she took part in a phone-in on James O’Brien’s show.
Steph from Wimbledon asked why Labour was not reflecting Mr Ellwood’s position.
She said: “My question is very simple. Tobias Ellwood, a Tory MP, came out and admitted that Brexit is a mistake. I’m not hearing anything from the Labour Party that reflects that same position. Why not?”
Ms Rayner replied: “Because leaving the EU was a decision that was made some years ago in a referendum and Remain lost and that’s the facts.
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“We’ve left the EU. I think the way in which we’ve done it is a dog’s dinner if I’m honest.
“I think the debate is how we keep a closer relationship with Europe and move forward. But you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.
“We had a referendum, the country voted to leave the EU and this Government, the Conservatives, have handled it I think disastrously.
“We were promised oven-ready deals, we were promised lots of money. Jacob Rees-Mogg said our energy bills would go down – that hasn’t happened.
“So I think people are angry that what they were promised hasn’t been delivered. But we had a referendum and the referendum was to leave and that’s where we are.
“We’ve been very pragmatic in our approach since then, saying that we’ve left the EU but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t look at how we can get better trading relationship and better collaboration.”
Presenter Mr O’Brien said: “You won’t answer this question to Steph’s satisfaction and everybody understands why.
“But is there a point at which it becomes politically live again because the polling, imagine it hit 80 percent saying it was all a terrible mistake, you’ve got Farage admitting it was a failure?”
But Ms Rayner insisted if the UK rejoined the EU it would be on worse terms.
She said: “Ok let’s walk through that, so everyone says it was a terrible mistake and we shouldn’t have done it.
“You can’t go, ‘Can I come back in where I was?’ That’s not an option. You either try and rejoin and then you rejoin on different terms which I don’t believe people will be happy with.
“Or you try and make good of a situation that the Government have completely handled disastrously.”
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It comes after senior Conservative MP Mr Ellwood called for the UK to rejoin the single market.
He told the i newspaper: “Nobody dares mention Brexit on the Labour or Conservative side or look at the numbers to see whether economically it would be wiser for us to be in or outside of the single market.
“Surely we should have that strength of character, the courage to look at the biggest generational decision which is now clearly not gone in the right direction. I didn’t know anybody who voted Remain or Brexit, who expected us to be where we are today, but we dare not go there.”
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