Nigel Farage used his LBC slot to berate Jeremy Corbyn last night after the Labour leader announced a framework for backing a second referendum.
A furious caller told the former UKIP leader that Corbyn had “betrayed” the north and that the Labour party had “no chance” in gaining seats in its traditional heartlands now the party had, in essence, simply delivered on proposals agreed in the last Labour Party conference.
Farage responded saying “if people give up totally on the democratic process then some of those that predict people will turn to street violence might be proven true”, clearly forgetting he himself called for a second referendum on EU membership following a huge public backlash since the vote.
But he also overlooked the fact that a U-turn on Brexit would give the north the biggest lifeline in a generation.
According to the government’s own impact assessment the North East of England will be the hardest hit if Britain crashes out of the EU with a “no-deal”. It is the only region of England with a surplus in goods trade with the EU, and also has the highest per capita EU funding of any English region, even though voters overwhelmingly and somewhat perplexingly backed Brexit.
Indeed, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found the parts of the north that voted most strongly to leave the EU are also the most vulnerable to the economic turbulence caused by Brexit. The Humber (which voted 65 per cent to leave), Tees Valley (64 per cent), and the Sheffield city-region (62 per cent) had the highest percent of leave votes in the north of England, but are also the areas that have yet to transition fully from their industrial pasts.
Some of that economic turbulence has already come to fruition. Earlier this month Nissan announced it won’t build its new car in Sunderland, citing Brexit as one of the reasons why. A North East employer also told County Durham MP Helen Goodman that it will sack “several hundred” people if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, saying it would be “a catastrophe”. They’re not the only ones sounding the alarm.
And that’s because the regions most exposed to the risk of higher tariffs and trade costs are the ones who are going to suffer the most, which puts the north directly in the firing line. Backing a framework for a second referendum would give Britain’s industrial heartlands a lifeline. Calling it a betrayal is dangerously shortsighted.