Keir Starmer is branded a 'hypocrite' as he adopts Brexit slogan

Now he wants to take back control! Keir Starmer is branded a ‘hypocrite’ as he adopts Brexit slogan… after he spent years trying to keep us in the EU

  • Promised to turn ‘slogan into a solution, from a catchphrase into change’ 
  • He said this would be achieved by devolving more powers to local communities
  • Critics called it a cynical attempt to ‘hoodwink’ Red Wall voters into returning

Sir Keir Starmer was labelled a hypocrite yesterday as he pledged a ‘take back control’ Bill – despite previous efforts to thwart Brexit.

In his first major speech of the year, the Labour leader vowed to deliver on the Leave campaign’s slogan from the 2016 Brexit referendum if his party wins the next election.

He promised to turn the ‘slogan into a solution, from a catchphrase into change’ by devolving more powers to local communities. But critics accused him of a cynical attempt to ‘hoodwink’ Red Wall voters into returning to Labour after many voted Tory in 2019. They pointed out that Sir Keir repeatedly tried to force a second referendum to overturn the Brexit result. Speaking in east London less than 24 hours after Rishi Sunak gave the first major speech of his premiership at a venue a few metres away, the Labour leader said: ‘It’s not unreasonable for us to recognise the desire of communities to stand on their own feet – it’s what “take back control” meant.’

He added: ‘We will embrace the “take back control” message, but we’ll turn it from a slogan into a solution, from a catchphrase into change. We will spread control out of Westminster and devolve new powers over employment support, transport, energy, climate change, housing, culture, childcare provision and how councils run their finances and will give communities a new right to request powers which go beyond even that.

Pictured: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves holding rivet guns for aircraft wing manufacturing during a walkabout outside at UCL at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on January 5, 2023

‘All this will be in a new “take back control” Bill – a centrepiece of our first King’s speech. A Bill that will deliver on the demand for a new Britain.’

Asked at a press conference after the speech whether he ‘regrets’ pushing for a second referendum, he said: ‘Even in those turbulent years, 2016-2019, I was always making the argument that there was always something very important sitting behind that Leave vote.

‘That phrase, “take back control”, was really powerful, it was like a Heineken phrase, it got into people, and the more they asked themselves “do I have enough control?”, the more they answered that question “no”. If you can’t make ends meet in your family you don’t have control, if you don’t have a secure job you don’t have control, if you feel you can’t go out after dark because of anti-social behaviour you don’t have control.

‘And I’ve always accepted that argument, which is why I said in my speech that you can’t deny the basic argument being made, and I think it’s time for us to embrace it.’

Pictured: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during his first major domestic speech of the year at Plexal, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on January 4, 2023

But Conservative MP and Brexiteer Peter Bone said: ‘The idea that the leader of the Labour Party wants to take back control is laughable, as he still wants us to go back into the European Union, where decisions would be taken by unelected bureaucrats and we would give up control of vast swathes of our law-making. If you ever wanted an example of the pot calling the kettle black, then this is a prime example. It’s ridiculous.’

Fellow Tory Brexiteer Craig Mackinlay added: ‘I find his statement, given his trench warfare over the Brexit war period of 2016-2019, to be flimsy and purely designed to hoodwink Red Wall voters back into the Labour fold.

‘But I don’t believe it and I don’t think Labour voters will believe it.’ Insiders claim Sir Keir repeatedly blocked his party from supporting a compromise that would have got Britain out of the EU quicker in January 2020.

Then-prime minister Theresa May was so desperate to get any form of Brexit deal through the Commons in the dying days of her premiership that she threw open her negotiation strategy to the Labour Party under then-leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Pictured: Boris Johnson making a speech for the Vote Leave campaign in London on March 11, 2016

At the time, Sir Keir was tasked with his party’s Brexit strategy and was allegedly insistent that any deal should include a confirmatory vote.

During his speech yesterday he also said he would repeal new anti-strike laws designed to limit the power of unions, from whom he has accepted £15millon in donations since becoming leader.

Ministers yesterday unveiled plans for the laws, which would force strikers to ensure a minimum level of service during walkouts in sectors including health, rail, education, fire and borders.

The laws would empower bosses to sue unions and sack staff in crucial sectors if minimum service levels are not maintained.

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