Keir Starmer must apologise for Labour’s Brexit stance if he wants to rebuild trust in the party’s former heartlands, three former frontbenchers have warned.
Former party chairman Ian Lavery and ex-elections chief Jon Trickett tore into the party’s shift to supporting a second referendum and said the Labour leader should not “whitewash” the past.
Mr Starmer was Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit spokesman and was seen as influential in shifting the party towards backing another vote ahead of the 2019 election.
Some critics have blamed the support for a second referendum for Labour’s crushing defeat at the polls, while others pointed to Mr Corbyn’s unpopularity among voters.
In a new report, co-written with Laura Smith, who lost her Crewe and Nantwich seat at the 2019 election, the Corbyn allies called for a “settling of accounts” with both Leave and Remain voters.
The trio told HuffPost: “Labour got it wrong on a second referendum.
“The party went against one of the only times in recent history that people felt they could finally express their justified anger at the present political system.
“To rebuild trust that has been lost and restore people’s trust in politics, Labour should say sorry.
“This is not only about Labour winning elections but restoring faith in democracy.”
Labour cannot move on until the issue has been dealt with, they said.
In a swipe at Mr Starmer, the former frontbenchers said: “For those who will say that the matter is behind us and we should move on, we say it will not do to whitewash or to ignore the recent past.”
The Labour leader has tried to move the conversation on since replacing Mr Corbyn in April, arguing that Brexit is going ahead regardless.
The party has instead focused on holding the Government to account on its efforts to secure a trade deal with Brussels before exit day at the end of the year.
Mr Starmer’s office declined to comment.
The new report, entitled “No Holding Back”, was drafted following 50 virtual events with Labour groups.