EU Referendum

Sadiq Khan: Labour must do more for Remain vote

Sadiq Khan

Labour needs to do more to encourage its supporters to vote to stay in the EU - or risk losing the referendum, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

He said Labour voters were key to Remain winning but they had been turned off the debate by media pre-occupation with Conservative infighting.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had "been working very hard" but his message "hasn't been cutting through", he said.

Later, ex-PM Gordon Brown and ex-leader Neil Kinnock will stage a pro-EU rally.

Mr Brown, who played a pivotal role in the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK in 2014, will use the event in Glasgow to urge Scottish voters to vote to stay in the EU.

There will be a separate Labour rally in Birmingham.

There are just two weeks to go until the UK decides on its future in the EU, in an in-out referendum on 23 June.

The Remain campaign believes Labour voters will be essential to winning the referendum but it has concerns about turnout levels among the group.

Mr Khan, the newly-elected mayor of London, said Labour had a "monumental responsibility" to ensure it mobilised its supporters to vote in favour of continued EU membership.

"The worry that we have is, for understandable reasons because a lot of the media attention has been on so-called 'blue on blue' attacks - Boris Johnson versus David Cameron, Michael Gove versus George Osborne - Labour voters have been turned off," he said.

He said he was trying to "remind Labour voters and supporters" why it was "so important" for the UK to remain in the EU - and was calling on them to persuade friends and family to vote Remain.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn visited a Sikh temple on Thursday to discuss the Labour In campaign

Asked whether he believed Jeremy Corbyn - who has been very critical of the EU in the past - had done enough to make the case for the EU, Mr Khan said the leader had been busy campaigning around the UK.

"Jeremy has been working really hard, talking to members, to citizens around the country," he said, but added: "What's clear is that it hasn't been cutting through."

He said the town hall campaign approach was not enough on its own.

"Too many Labour voters, supporters don't understand that we are unequivocally united about the importance of remaining in the European Union," Mr Khan said.

But he said it was not Mr Corbyn's responsibility alone to get the message out, and said: "All of us have a responsibility, we can't just put it on the leader's shoulders."

While the majority of the Labour Party is in support of the UK's EU membership, a handful of its MPs are supporting an EU exit, including Gisela Stuart, chairwoman of Vote Leave campaign.

Ms Stuart has said the EU has been bad for workers, saying levels of unemployment in eurozone countries were in the "double digits".

"This notion that the European Union is this great paragon of social justice - think again," she has said.