Labour remainers don’t view the EU as an “earthly paradise” across the Channel, and we definitely aren’t “starry-eyed” with regards to its shortcomings (Corbyn is right. Labour needs both leavers and remainers, 6 June).
In thinking so, Larry Elliott risks falling into the 2016 referendum trap. Our EU membership isn’t a binary good or bad issue fixed with a simple yes or no answer. And a future public vote with remain as an option should not be interpreted as a collective desire to keep the status quo.
Labour MEPs have long pushed for reforms within the EU, and we stand proudly before our achievements as one of the most progressive delegations in the European parliament. Our draft manifesto Remain, Reform, Rebel was at the heart of our campaign messaging for these unexpected EU elections, and it calls for a Europe for the many, not the few, with reformed domestic policies, reimagined foreign ones and ambitious targets for tackling the climate crisis. As one of the 10 returning Labour MEPs, I am committed to starting this new mandate – however long it may be – on a proactive agenda for change.
When remainers like myself argue that we already have the best deal as members of the EU, we don’t mean it can’t get any better. We’re warning that it would be significantly worse if we let ourselves turn into a post-Brexit dystopia on the other side of the Channel.
Labour MEP for the north-east
• Larry Elliott rightly draws readers’ attention to Labour’s need to “win marginals in the north, the Midlands and south-east as well”. Let me enlighten your readers on the results of the recent EU election in my own town, Chesterfield in North Derbyshire, a far from “marginal” Labourconstituency.
In the 2017 general election in Chesterfield, Labour had its best result for decades. It also held on to its control of the council in the recent local elections, although it is clear that in predominantly middle class and remain-voting wards in the referendum control switched to the Lib Dems. Conversely, it was in mainly working-class leave wards that Labour held on to its supporters.
In Chesterfield’s EU election, the Brexit party and Ukip won a staggering 44.9%. The Lib Dems got 18.4% and Labour got a mere 16.7%. The turnout of 32% was almost certainly the consequence of previously Labour voters staying at home. Something like this pattern occurred throughout South Yorkshire and the north-east. If this kind of voting pattern were repeated in a general election, Labour would lose seats, including, most probably, “safe” Labour Chesterfield.
Dr Ian Rutledge
• I find it strangely predictable that the Guardian’s economics editor avoids examining the horrendous economic tribulations that Brexit brings, particularly during the week when we had Trump pushing an America-first free trade policy and another motor plant closure hastened along by Brexit. He is right that London is a separate country and City fat cats will survive Brexit regardless. But what is needed is real economic regeneration in the UK’s forgotten towns, along with greater decentralisation and infrastructure investment; luckily other Guardian columnists do describe these ideas (perhaps the Guardian should move back to Manchester or to Sunderland, which needs it even more). This must be sustainable, so a Green New Deal is essential. However, Corbyn is both too rigid and completely unelectable so Labour will be unable to bring this about without political allies and a different leader.
• Larry Elliott states: “The reality is that Europe has a currency that doesn’t work, an economy that doesn’t work and a political process that doesn’t work.” What have we got? After years of staggering Tory incompetence and callousness, we have an NHS in crisis, a justice system ditto, a state education system partly privatised and underfunded, millions of folk facing uncertainty over their future in old age, a benefit system in chaos and more people sleeping on the streets than I have ever witnessed in my 75 years of life in this country. Europe seems to me to be a shining beacon compared with the slow degeneration into squalor we are seeing here. What Corbyn needs is to get off the fence.