We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by Brexit

The aftermath of the EU referendum continues to shake the political landscape. Labour, so often seen as the united party on Europe are convulsed by the issue, and our Party’s traditionally ebullient internal opposition has dissipated into a united desire to uphold the will of the British people.

Over the coming years, Brexit will loom large over our nation’s politics, its influence will be felt in every policy decision taken, and will resonate at the next General Election.

Come May 2020, Brexit will be the gauge by which the success of Theresa May’s government will be measured, the kaleidoscope through which voters will view the state of affairs of our country.

We must ensure that our rhetoric and actions portray not just confidence and competence, but also unity and inclusivity. Mixed messages, disorganisation and disunity will provide preloaded ammunition for our political opponents on both the left and the right. UKIP will jump on any opportunity to portray conciliation as an attempt to circumvent Brexit, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats will attempt to portray a move towards a ‘hard Brexit’ as an attempt by a few overzealous Brexiteers to pull the country further away from Europe than anyone initially anticipated.

Our Party is making electoral progress across the country, and as I write this, is aggressively contesting the by-election in Copeland, a seat which has been held by Labour since its establishment in 1983. Whether or not we gain the seat, this is indicative of our steady march into Labour heartlands. We continue to gain momentum in Northern England, Wales and even Scotland, where the sterling work of Ruth Davidson and her team is apparent for all to see.

Yet we must not forget that two of our biggest targets – London and Scotland – voted remain in the referendum, as did 48% of the nation’s electorate. The by-election in Richmond Park demonstrated that the Brexit campaign has left scars in these areas that will not heal easily, and as such a careful balance must be struck if we are to ensure Brexit is delivered without harming our election prospects in these key areas.

We must be mindful of Brexit, but cannot allow ourselves to be defined by Brexit.

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