Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour “had the right Brexit policy” despite the party suffering a crushing defeat at the December general election.
The shadow Brexit secretary, who is currently favourite to replace Jeremy Corbyn as the party’s leader, said on Sunday he still backed the policy despite the heavy defeat.
“I thought it was the right policy,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“I thought we should have gone on, by the way, and said which side we would be campaigning on if there was a referendum.
“And I warned our party that if we looked indecisive, we wouldn’t look like we were leading on this issue.”
When asked if he still supported the policy, Mr Starmer replied: “Yes, of course, because what we were doing, we were fighting against a deal that we thought would be very damaging for our country.”
On Friday Mr Starmer’s closest opponent Rebecca Long-Bailey – dubbed by her critics the “continuity candidate” for her closeness to Mr Corbyn – urged the party not to row back from the “popular” policies found in its election manifesto.
She said: “Retreating from popular policies that provide answers to the crises facing our country is no route to victory.”
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Despite her comments, Ms Long-Bailey has previously confirmed she would ditch elements of the defeated manifesto.
Along with the other three candidates in the contest, she admitted on BBC Newsnight that she would not pursue blocking a rise in the retirement age or introducing a four-day working week.
She does, however, support re-nationalising industries such as rail, water and energy, while also scrapping university tuition fees.
The shadow business secretary announced to supporters in Salford that she would look to build a “counter-narrative” to what she branded “deliberate” efforts in the press to keep Labour and its left-wing policies from power.