Chuka Umunna reiterates concerns over “mistruths” in Leave campaign

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna believes there is no doubt about the adverse impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The debate continues to split country, parties and households, yet the future ramifications still seem unclear.

And Mr Umunna again highlighted his concerns that the real effects of the referendum will not be felt until it is too late to reverse them.

The prominent Remain campaigner said: “Destroying people’s jobs, businesses and livelihoods, that’s my worry.

“It’s already impacting on people’s everyday lives and we haven’t actually left yet. By the time the impact on people’s lives reach fever pitch, we may have already left and won’t be in a position to do anything about it – it’s damage limitation.”

As chair of Vote Leave Watch and the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU Relations, alongside his new radio role at LBC, Mr Umunna is now a national figure in Brexit debates, pushing his party to challenge the Conservatives how they have approached leaving the EU.

In 2015, he resigned his post as shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Now, with the party switching tack post-referendum, and away from its initial position of remaining part of the single market and customs union, Mr Umunna again finds himself frustrated with his party’s stance.

He said: “Overwhelmingly, our members, those who vote for the Labour party, our trade unions and businesses are all saying that the UK should be seeking as a minimum to stay in the single market and the customs union – if Brexit happens.

“It would be madness for us to set our faith against that and essentially to unwittingly be backing a Tory Brexit – I just think we would be resigning our role at the table of democracy if we did that.”

Stopping short of openly criticising his party, he repeats: “I think that as the party of social justice and work, we should advance our position and commit to full participation in the single market and the customs union as a minimum.”

Mr Umunna also heavily criticised the perceived misinformation from the Vote Leave campaign, which he believes turned the electorate against Brussels.

With promises such as the funnelling of £350m a week into the NHS being reneged on, he refutes claims from senior cabinet ministers that they are hamstrung by stubborn EU negotiators.

He said: “I don’t think anybody’s surprised that you’re going to hear a particular line from the Department for Environment and the Foreign Office given the lies pedalled by messers [Michael] Gove and [Boris] Johnson on that big red bus of theirs.

“During the referendum these guys had free will, and they weren’t really held to account in the same way that they are as cabinet ministers implementing Brexit, for their words but also for their actions and deeds.

“I think it’s a lot harder for them to busk and pedal mistruths in the same way as in the referendum campaign now that they’re in this through government.”

The question now is whether anything can be done to protect the jobs, businesses and livelihoods Mr Umunna fears for.

Parliament will vote on the final EU trade deal, but he would also like to see the public return to the polls, bringing an issue that revolves so heavily around ‘the will of the people’ full circle.

He added: “If what is in the withdrawal agreement doesn’t match what people were promised, then I am very open to us having a referendum on the final deal.

“I think if the people started the process, then they should end the process. The form of Brexit should not be determined by some Westminster elite.”

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