Europhile Labour peer Lord Adonis has apologised for saying that Brexit supporters should not vote for the party.
The People’s Vote campaigner, who is standing for Labour in the European Parliament elections, came under fire after the comments were highlighted by the Brexit Party on social media this week.
In a post on Facebook, he said he was “deeply sorry for the off-the-cuff comments” and urged all voters to back Labour in next month’s poll, regardless of their views on Brexit.
But he was mocked by MPs from the Remain-backing Independent Group (TIG) for using words closely echoing the official Labour commitment to respect the result of the 2016 referendum, despite his own history of demanding a second vote to overturn it.
“Labour has always been clear that it respects the result of the referendum,” wrote Lord Adonis. “What we do not respect is the way the Conservatives have sought to use Brexit to create a more unequal economy and a harsher society.
“That is why Labour has put forward a sensible alternative plan that would ensure a close economic relationship with the EU after Brexit, based on a new customs union and dynamic alignment on rights and standards.
“If such a plan cannot be secured due to the Government’s infighting and irresponsibility, we believe all options should remain on the table, including the option of a public vote.”
TIG spokesman Chuka Umunna suggested the former transport secretary had been “gagged” by the Labour leadership, while fellow TIG MP Sarah Wollaston said he had been subjected to “compulsory re-education”.
“I thought this was a spoof account when I read this on my friend Andrew Adonis’ page but then I remembered he is now standing for UK Labour in the European elections and so has been gagged by the leadership,” said Mr Umunna, who quit Labour in February.
“Bye bye People’s Vote and Remain, hello soft Brexit. So disappointing.”
TIG MP Angela Smith tweeted: “Such a shame to see a great anti-Brexit campaigner reduced to repeating meaningless lines from the Labour leadership.”
And former Conservative MP Dr Wollaston asked: “Does someone need to rescue @Andrew_Adonis from this compulsory re-education?”
Lord Adonis is standing in the May 23 European Parliament elections for Labour in the South-West of England, where he faces opposition from Rachel Johnson fighting for TIG under the banner Change UK and former minister Ann Widdecombe for the Brexit Party.
In a live phone-in on LBC last September, Lord Adonis said: “If you are a Brexiter, I hope you won’t vote for the Labour Party, because the Labour Party is moving increasingly against Brexit.
“If you want Brexit, you should vote for a party that’s going to deliver Brexit, and we’re not going to deliver Brexit.”