Labour’s Brexit policy has “damaged” its electoral standing and the party should now discuss whether to revoke Article 50 if it wins the next election, according to an ally of Jeremy Corbyn on Labour’s ruling body.
A video passed to Sky News shows Darren Williams, a National Executive Committee (NEC) member and secretary of the pro-Corbyn group “Welsh Labour Grassroots”, making the comments in a presentation on Saturday.
He said: “The Brexit process and the way that Labour policy has been conceived has clearly damaged our electoral standing.”
The long-time Labour member goes on to blame the media for playing up the party’s divisions over Brexit and exaggerating the impact it has had.
The comments by another senior party figure loyal to Mr Corbyn are a further indication of the growing unease over the current position of the Labour leadership on Brexit.
But Mr Williams told Sky News on Sunday: “The Brexit policy itself hasn’t caused problems, it is how it has been perceived.
“I have continually supported the position; it was more nuanced and balanced than the crude approach by other parties, but the situation has developed.”
Elsewhere in the footage Mr Williams said, if the party was to win an early general election this autumn, it should commit to revoking the UK’s Article 50 notification, “rather than go through with the process of a no-deal”.
If faced with a Conservative-led Brexit, he said the party should support Remain and added there needed to be “further discussion” on whether a Labour government should change the Brexit deadline and “negotiate a better a deal”, or whether it should “just revoke Article 50 and have none of it”.
He said a “slightly more overtly kind of pro-Remain position chimes with the views of most of our members and I think with most of our core voter base”.
“That’s just reflected in the fact that we lost about three times as many votes to explicitly pro-Remain parties as we did to pro-Leave parties,” he added, in relation to May’s EU elections.
Mr Williams acknowledged Labour’s leadership had come under pressure “to be more explicit” and said that shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott have “obviously been among those who are pushing for that”.
The NEC member said that Labour’s ruling body would meet on 23 July and “will be be moving towards some kind of decision” at that point.
He added Mr Corbyn had written to all NEC members in the last 10 days to ask for their views.
On Sunday, Mr McDonnell pressured Mr Corbyn to adopt a pro-Remain position “sooner rather than later”.