'If you ignore voters you do so at your peril' - Sheffield cabinet member blames Labour's monumental election defeat on their failure to support Brexit result
Brexit was to blame for Labour’s widespread defeat in the general election, a Sheffield Cabinet member has said.
Coun Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and safer communities, voted for Brexit himself and said Labour did not listen to its voters who wanted to Leave.
Coun Wood, who organised the Sheffield South East campaign for Clive Betts MP, said:
“I firmly believe Brexit has been a major issue for our party. I supported Brexit and we have kept quiet for a very long time about it just to keep the peace within the party but now it’s come home to roost and we can see that if you ignore the voters, you do so at your peril.”
"I voted for Brexit but Labour has kept quiet on this for all these years. I think it's time for some honesty in our party about what the voters expect of us."
Mr Betts said on election night that Labour had to reach out to people who felt they couldn’t support the party.
He added: "People voted for Brexit and feel let down. This was always going to happen in these northern seats. I said three years ago that if Labour didn't support the result of the referendum this would happen.
“I’m not going to pretend it’s been a good election for Labour, clearly it hasn’t. It’s one that fills me with great gloom and concern.
“I have to accept that we, as a Labour Party, have a job to do to understand why many people who always voted Labour at every election felt they couldn’t vote for us on this occasion.
“We have to go out and listen and learn and represent these people through very challenging times. We need to rebuild the Labour Party, rebuild our vote and come back in five years to reverse this result and see another Labour government elected.”
Labour’s heartlands were wiped out in the election, with seats such as Rother Valley, Don Valley, Bassetlaw and Bosolver falling to the Conservatives, while MPs in Barnsley and Doncaster saw their majorities slashed. Only Sheffield Hallam was a success, won by Labour’s Olivia Blake.