More than one million Labour voters who backed Brexit have abandoned their support for it, with all sides “losing hope for a better future” for Britain, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.
The ex-Labour leader said Leave voters feel “betrayed” because none of the proposed exit deals from Brussels can deliver what was promised, as he addressed an audience at Edinburgh Book festival today.
He pointed to polls conducted by the Hope Not Hate organisation which suggest that 21 per cent of Labour leave voters had changed their minds, while more recent polls say 29 per cent have switched to undecided or remain in recent weeks. That, said Brown, adds up to more than 1 million voters as the country lurches from “one Brexit shambles to another.”
“Leavers and remainers now do have one thing in common - both are increasingly losing hope for a better future for Britain,” Brown said.
“Remain voters are despondent, fearing that we have moved from a soft Brexit to a hard Brexit to a no-deal Brexit.”
“But leave voters believe that none of the Brexit options- a Norway-style deal, a Swiss-style deal or the Canadian option - can deliver what they were promised and now feel betrayed.
“In truth we have now spent the past two years immobilised by divisions, failing to deal with the causes of Brexit.
“Our country is often accused of being stuck in the past. The problem this time is that we are stuck in the present – and, as each day passes, becoming less and less optimistic about the future.”
And he called on political leaders to tackle the “root causes” of Brexit.
Concerns over a loss of sovereignty to Brussels could be addressed by a constitutional statute that insists that European decisions have to respect and uphold the UK’s “national identity”, he said.
And immigration concerns could be tackled through measures like requiring jobs to be registered at local job centres - as in Switzerland - register new entrants, require applicants to report to job centres as is happening in Germany and requiring migrants to leave if they don’t have a job as happened in Belgium.
But a failure to tackle these issues will only see growing discontent as people sense they are “losers” from globalisation, Brown added.
“This will only get worse unless we can build a new social consensus for the age of the gig economy and by doing so rebuild trust in our institutions,” he added
“We can give the people of Britain hope.”