People in Hartlepool regard this as a done deal. It’s behind them. Yes, they gave their votes in many cases to the man who they think delivered Brexit for them – that was Boris Johnson. But they weren’t seeking to reopen that issue and they weren’t laying it at the doorstep of the Labour candidate.
Having said that, I would acknowledge this, and I think it is a broader and frankly more interesting point, that Brexit attitudes – the sort of cultural or social values or outlook that we associate with Brexit, rather than the issue itself – [are] still present in voters in Hartlepool, and elsewhere in northern England. And that’s something the Labour party has got to understand and to come to terms with.
In a sense it’s Brexit values, or a cultural set of attitudes, that have overlain the economic interests, or the class identity, that people have in a constituency like Hartlepool. And the Labour party is not making that cultural connection with those people.
And it’s not about whether or not we’re in the European Union. It’s about broader social attitudes and a broader cultural outlook that people have, which the Labour party has got to understand and connect with once again if we’re going to stand any chance of winning back the support and votes of those people.